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OU   160839  >m 


VOL.  I 

General  Editor: 

S.  N.  DASGUPTA,  C.I.E.,  M.A.,  PH.D.  (CAL.  et  CANTAB.), 



Contributors  to  this  Volume: 

S.  N.  DASGUPTA,  C.I.E.,  M.A.,  PH.D.,  D.LITT. 

(Preface,  Introduction,  History  of  A  {arpfeara  Literature  and  Editor's  Notes) 

S.  K.  DE,  M.A.,  D.LITT.  (LOND.) 

( History  of  Kavya  Literature ) 






1343B~-Jime,  1947— A. 





CONTENTS             ...                ...                ...                ...  iii 

PREFACE               ...                 ...                ...                 ...  v 


1.     GENERAL  REMARKS        ...                 ...                 ...  xiii-li 

Functions  of  the  sutas — sutas  not  repositories  of 

heroic  poetry                ...                   ...                   ...  xiii 

Artificiality — not  an  indispensable  character  of 

Sanskrit  Poetry          ...                 ...                  ...  xiv 

Identification  of  Kavya  as  "ornate  poetry"  untenable  xv 

Alamkara  in  earlier  literature                ...                 ...  xvi 

Direct  evolution  of  classical  style  from  the  Vedic 

literature                       ...                  ...                  ...  xvii 

Continuity  of  the  Kavya  literature  ...  xviii 
Literature  in  the  first  six  hundred  years  of  the 

Christian  era               ...                  ...                 ...  xix 

Greater  complexity  of  style  in  later  times  ...  xix 
Some  characteristics  of  Sanskrit  poetry — religio- 

social  restrictions  on  sociefy          ...                 ...  xxi 

The  development  of  the  Dharma$dstra  and  the  Srayti  xxv 

Effect  of  patternisation  of  life  on  literature              ...  xxviii 

Varnasraraa  ideals  in  Kalidasa              ...                 ...  xxx 

Restriction  of  the  scope  of  free  love      ...                 ...  xxxii 

Nature  of  the  theme  of  subjects  chosen  ...  xxxiv 

K&lidasa's  treatment  of  love  of  romances  ...  xxxv 
The  plot  of  the  Sakuntald,  and  the  view  of  Rabindra- 

nath                                                                . . .  xxxvi 



Patternisation  and  insulation  of  Indian  Society  ...  xxxviii 

Function  of  poetry             ...                 ...  ...  xl 

Relieving  features  of  Sanskrit  poetry  ...  ...  xli 

Transcendent  object  of  literary  art      ...  ...  xli 

Aesthetic  emotion              ...                 ...  ...  xliii 

Concept  of  Indian  drama  ...                 ...  ...  xlvi 

The  Mahdbharata  and  the  Rdmdyana  ...  ...  xlix 

The  essence  of  Kavya  as  the  heightened  expression 

of  experience                                 ...  ...  H 

2.     SOCIAL  BACKGROUND  OF  LITERATURE  ...    lii-cxxvi 

Choice  of  subjects — Literature. and  Life  ...  Hi 

Fashionable  life  in  early  India  ...  Iv 

Early  academies                 ...                 ...  ...  Ivii 

Life  at  the  time  of  Barm    ...                 ...  ...  Iviii 

Gradual  separation  of  city  life  from  the  life   in  the 

villages     ...                 ...                 ...  ...  Ix 

Puranic  legends — the  source  of  the  plots  of  Kavya  Ixii 

Love  in  Sanskrit  poetry    ...                 ...  ...  Ixiii 

Rasa  and  Rasabhasa          ...                 ...  ...  Ixiv 

Growth  of  Indian  civilisation  from  Vedic  literature  Ixv 

The  characteristics  of  Indian  temperament  ...  Ixvi 

Race  peculiarities  in  the  literature       ...  ...  Ixviii 

The  idea  of  dharma           ...                 ...  ...  Ixxii 

Secular  outlook  and  the  doctrine  of  Trivarga  ...  Ixxiv 

Dramatic  art  ...                 ...                ...  ...  Ixxvii 

Religious  temperament  and  its  effect  on   the  choice 

of  plots    ...                 ...                 ...                 ...  Ixxix 

Drama — types  and  characteristics        ...        *  ...  Ixxxii 

The  place  of  love  in  literature               ...                 ...  Ixxxix 

Patternising  tendency  of  Indian  culture                  ...  xc 

Continuity  of  Indian  culture                ...                 ...  tfciii 

Ideal  of  dharma  in  law  and  politics      ...                 ...  xcvi 

Types  of  literature             ...                 ...                 ...  xcix 

Political  conditions  and  the  early  poetry                 ...  c 

CONTENTS  iv(a) 

Little    Greek    influence    on    Indian    culture     and 

literature                      ...                  ...                  ...  ciii 

Extension   of   Indian   Empire    up   to    Khotan    and 

Afghanistan                ...                 ...                 ...  civ 

Literature  at  the  time  of  Kaniska         ...                 ...  cv 

Rise  of  the  Guptas            ...                 ...                 ...  cvii 

Fa  Hien's  evidence  regarding  India's  social  condi- 
tions and  literature  of  the  time    ...                 ...  cix 

Gupta  civilisation  and  colonisation  by  Indians        ...  cxi 
Development  of  literature  from  the  7th  to   the    10th 

century                       ...                 ...                 ...  cxiii 

Political  and  literary  contact  with  the   neighbouring 

countries                     ...                 ...                 ...  cxv 

Political  condition  in  India  after  Harsa                   ...  cxvi 

General  review  of  the  growth  of  Sanskrit  literature  cxvii 

Literary  Prakrt — a  standardised  language              ...  cxx 

Was  Sanskrit  a  spoken  language  ?       ...                 ...  cxxi 

Difficulties  of  appreciating  Sanskrit  poetry             ...  cxxv 


Nature  in  Sanskrit  poetry                     ...                 ...  cxxvi 



*    1.     The  Origin  and  Sources  of  the  Kavya  ...         1 
*^2.     The  Environment  and  Characteristics  of  the  Kavya       18 

^  3.     The  Origin  and  Characteristics  of  the  Drama  ...       42 


1.  A^vaghosa  and  his  School                   ...  ...       69 

2.  The  Avadana  Literature                      ...  ...       81 

3.  The  Literature  of  Tale  and  Fable       ...  ...       b3 

(a)  The  Pancatantra       ...                ...  ...       86 

,     (6)  The  Brhatkatha  of  Gunadhya     ...  ...       92 

4.  The  Dramas  Ascribed  to  Bhasa          ...  ...     101 

iv(b)  CONTENTS 


'CHAPTKR  III  —  KALIDISA                                                  ...  118 


1.     The  Erotic  Satakas  of  Amaru  and  Bhartrhari       ...  156 

2.,    The  Stotra-Satakas  of  Bana,  Mayura  and  others  ...  166 

-^3.     The  Mahakavya  from  Bharavi  to  Magha               ...  173 

W<z)  Bharavi                      ...                 ...                 ...  177 

^(b)  Bhatti                        ...                ...                ...  183 

*-{c)  Kumaradasa               ...                 ...                 ...  185 

v(d)  Magha                        ...                 ...                 ...  188 

4.     The  Gnomic,  Didactic  and  Satiric  Poems             ...  194 


1.     The  Prose  Kavyas  of  Dandin,  Subandhu  and  Bana  200 

^(a)-Dandin                        ...                 ...                 ...  207 

(£)  Subandhu                   ...                 ...                 ...  217 

...                 ...                 ...  225 

2.  The  Dramas  from  Sudraka  to  Bhavabhuti  ...  239 
-Aa)  Sudraka                      ...                 ...  ...  239 

(b)  The  Authors  of  the  Gaturbbani  and  the  Matta- 

vilasa                     ...                 ...  ...  248 

M<0  Harsa                         ...                 ...  ...  255 

(d)  Vi^akhadatta        ,     ...                 ...  ...  262 

(e\  Bhattanarayan^       ...                 ...  ...  27  1 

\jf)  »•  Bhavabhuti                ...                 ...  ...  277 

(g)  Yasovarman,  Mayuraja  and  others  ...  298 


'  1.     General  Characteristics    ...                ...  ...  304 

2  .     The  Mahakavya                ...                 ...  ...  316 

3.  Poems  with  Historical  Themes          ...  ...  345 

4.  Shorter  Poems 

(a)  The  Erotic  Poetry     ...                ...  ...  364 

(b)  The  Devotional  Poetry                ...  ...  375 

CONTENTS  iv(c) 


(c)  The  Didactic  and  Satiric  Poetry  ...  398 

(d)  The  Anthologies  and  Women  Poets  ...  411 

5.     Prose  Literature               ...                 ...  •••  418 

(a)  The  Popular  Tale      ...                 ...  ...  420 

(fc)  The  Prose  Kavya       ...                 ...  ...  429 

(c)  The  Campu                ...                 ...  ...  433 



1.  General  Characteristics                       ...  ...  441 

2.  Murari  and  Rajasekhara                        ...  ...  449 

3.  Dramas  with  Legendary  Themus  and  Comedies  of 

Court-life                      ...                 ...  ...  462 

4.  Dramas   of  Middle-class  Life   and  Plays  of  Semi- 

Historical  Interest       ...                 ...  ...  474 

5.  The  Allegorical  Drama     ...                 ...  ...  479 

6.  Erotic  and  Farcical  Plays                    ...  ...  487 

7 .  Dramas  of  an  Irregular  Type               ...  ...  501 



Vyakarana  school  and  Alamkara  school     ...  ...  513 

Alamkara-dastra — its  name     ...                 ...  ...  517 

Early  Origin  of  the  Alamkara                    ...  ...  520 

Earlier  Writers  on  Alamkara -^astra           ...  ...  525 

Udbhata               ...                 ...                ...  ...  533 

Alamkara  in  the  Agnipurana  ...                 ...  ...  538 

Auandavardhana,  Dhvanikara  and  Abhinavagupta       ...  5 JO 

Rajasekhara         ...                ...                ...  ...  546 

Bhattatauta          ...                 ...                 ...  ...  548 

Kuntaka               ...                ...                 ...  ...  548 

Dhanafljaya          :„                ...                ...  ...  550 

iv(d)  CONTENTS 


Mahimabhat^a      ...                 ...  ...  ...  551 

Bbojadeva            ...                ...  ...  ...  552 

Ksemendra           ...                 ...  ...  ...  554 

Mammata             ...                 ...  ...  ...  556 

Buyyaka               ...                ...  ...  ...  55(> 

Vagbhatal           ...                 ...  ...  ...  559 

Hemacandra         ...                 ...  ...  ...  559 

Jayadeva               ...                 ...  ...  ...  560 

Bhanudatta           ...                 ...  ...  ...  561 

Vidyadhara           ...                 ...  ...  ...  561 

Vidyanatha           ...                 ...  ...  ...  562 

Vagbhata  II         ...                 ...  ...  ...  563 

Vigvanatha            ...                 ...  ...  ...  563 

Ke6avami6ra         ...                 ...  ...  ...  564 

Appaya  Diksita  ...                 ...  ...  ...  564 

Jagannatha           ...                  ...  ...  ...  565 

Later  minor  writers                 ...  ...  ...  566 


Introductory         ...                 ...  ...  ...  567 

Vakrokti               ...                 ...  ...  ...  536 

Theory  of  Rasa    ...                 ...  ...  ...  592 

Dhvani                  ...                 ...  ...  ...  004 



Some  Earlier  Writers             ...  ...  ...  610 

Bhattikavya  and  other  cognate  Caritakavyas  ...  614 

Sanskrit  Drama  ...                 ...  ...  ...  630 

Theory  of  the  Greek  Origin  of  the  Indian  Drama        ...  650 

Sakas  arid  the  Sanskrit  Drama  ...  ...  654 

Buddhistic  Dramas                  ..."  ...  ...  654 

Lyric  Poetry        ...                ...  '...  ...  656 

CONTENTS  iv(e) 


Amaru^ataka         ...  ...  ...  ...  668 

Bhartrhari             ...  ...  ...  ...  669 

Gnomic  Poetry     ...  ...  ...  ...  673 

Historical  Kavyas  ...  ...  ...  r>76 

Prakrt                    ...  ...  ...  ...  683 

Celebrated  Writers  of  the  Past — Little  Known  now    ...  685 

Gunadhya             ...  ...  ...  ...  687 

Pancatantra           ...  ...  ...  ...  696 

Bhasa  and  the  Dramas  assigned  to  him     ...  ...  708 

Kalidasa                ...  ...  ...  ...  728 

Subandhu              ...  ...  ...  ...  754 

Bana                      ...  ...  ...  ...  755 

Sudraka                  ...  ...  ...  ...  756 

Harsa — the  Dramatist  ...  ...  ...  756 

ViSakhadatta         ...  ...  ...  ...  760 

Murari                    ...  ...  ...  ...  760 

CaturbhanI           ...  ...  ...  ...  761 

Bhattanarayana    ...  ...  ...  ...  76*2 

Bhavabhuti            ...  ...  ...  ...  763 

Kumaradasa          ...  ...  ...  ...  763 

Nilakantha  Diksita  ...  ...  ...  764 

Mahendravikrama-vannan  ...              "...  ...  765 

Venkatanatha       ...  ...  ...  ...  765 

Udayasundarl-kAtha  ...  ...  766 

Udayavarma-carita  ...  ...  766 

Kumarapala-pratibodha  ...  ...  ...  767 

Kupaka-satka         ...  ...  ...  ...  768 

Partha-parakrama  ...  ...  ...  769 

Nara-narayanananda  ...  ...  ...  770 

Srinivasa-vilasa-campu  ...  ...  ...  770 

Nalabhyudaya      ...  ...  ...  ...  771 

Katha-kautuka     ...  ...  ...  ...  771 

Eastraudha-vam^a  ...  ...  ...  772 

Kamalim-kalahamsa  ...  ...  ...  772 

B— 1343B 

iv(f)  CONTENTS 


Acyutarayabhyudaya               ...                 ...  ...  772 

Anandakanda-catnpu               ...                 ...  ...  773 

Narayamya           ...                 ...                ...  ...  774 

Bharata-carita,  Gandraprabha-carita,  Kavya-ratna 

and  Bala-martanda-vijaya  ...                 ...  ...  775 


INDEX                       ...                ...                ...  ...  777 


The  first  information   regarding  the  existence  of  Sanskrit 
and  the  literature  of  the  Upanisads  was  carried  to   the   West   by 
the  Latin  translation,  by  Anquebil  Duperron,  of  the  50  Upanisads 
from   the  Persian   translation   of  Dara   Shiko   which    at  once 
elicited   the  highest  approbation  of  Schopenhauer.     There    was 
a  time  when  it  was  openly  doubted  in  Europe  whether  there  was 
any   genuine   Sanskrit   language   and   the  distinguished  English 
philosopher  Dugald  Stewart  (1753-1828)   in  one  of  his  papers 
described   Sanskrit   as   a   forgery  of    the  .Brahmins.     But   the 
indefatigable  work  of  Sir  Wjlliam  Jones,  Colebrooke  and  others 
made  Sanskrit  known  to  the  Western  world.     It  was  then  recog- 
nised that   the   Sanskrit   language    with   its  old    and    modern 
descendants   represents   the    easternmost    branch  of  the    Indo- 
Germanic  Aryan  stock  of  speech.    Numerous  special  coincidences 
of   language  and  mythology  between  the  Vedic  Aryans  and  the 
people  of  Iran  also  prove  incontestably  that  these   two   members 
of   the  Indo-Germanic  family  must  have  lived  in  close  connection 
for  some  considerable  period  after  the  others  had   separated  from 

The  origin  of  comparative  philology  dates  from  the  time 
when  European  scholars  became  accurately  acquainted  with 
the  ancient  languages  of  India.  Before  this  the  classical  scholars 
had  been  unable  to  determine  the  true  relations  between  the  then 
known  languages  of  the  Aryan  stock.  It  is  now  almost  univer- 
sally recognised  that  Sanskrit  is  the  eldest  daughter  of  the  old 
mother-tongue  of  the  Aryan  people  and  probably  the  only 
surviving  daughter.  But  none  of  the  other  six  principal 
members  of  the  family  has  left  any  literary  monuments  and 
their  original  features  have  to  be  reproduced  as  best  as  possible 
from  the  materials  supplied  by  their  own  daughter-languages. 


Such  is  the  case  with  regard  to  the  Iranic,  Hellenic,  Italic, 
Celtic,  Teutonic  and  Letto-Slavic  languages.  The  oldest  of  the 
Indian  speeches  is  to  be  found  in  the  Rgveda.  In  the  language 
of  the  Rgveda,  one  can  trace  a  gradual  and  steady  development 
of  the  language  of  the  classical  Sanskrit  through  the  later 
Saipbitas,  the  Brahmanas  and  the  Upanisads.  The  development^ 
however,  is  not  as  spontaneous  as  the  modifications  that  are 
effected  by  popular  speech.  It  has  been  controlled  by  tradition  and 
grammatical  studies.  Changes  in  the  speech  of  the  upper  classes 
are  largely  prevented  by  the  sacred  devotion  to  it  and  this  was 
further  supplemented  by  the  work  of  the  early  grammarians, 
whose  analytical  skill  far  surpassed  anything  achieved  in  the 
West  up  till  recent  times.  The  Sanskrit  grammarians  tried 
as  far  as  possible  to  remove  irregularities  and  they  hardly  allowed 
any  scope  to  new  formations  and  this  preserved  to  a  very  great 
extent  the  purity  of  the  language  and  its  well-ordered  nature 
which  would  otherwise  have  been  impossible.  The  conservative 
tendency  of  Indian  literary  culture,  which  we  have  tried  to 
demonstrate  in  the  field  of  the  development  of  Sanskrit  litera- 
ture in  the  Introduction,  is  remarkably  manifested  also  in  the 
permanent  form  that  has  been  given  to  the  Sanskrit  language. 
The  word  samskrta  means  purified  and  well-ordered.  By  150 
B.C.,  by  the  joint  works  of  the  3  grammarians,  Panini, 
Katyayana  and  Patanjali,  the  language  attained  a  stereotyped 
form  which  remained  the  same  throughout  the  centuries,  though 
it  remained  the  literary  language  of  the  people.  It  can  hardly 
be  doubted  that  though  Panini  recognised  fully  the  Vedic  accents 
and  forms,  yet  in  his  time  it  was  Sanskrit  and  not  the  older 
Vedic  languages  that  were  spoken.  Yet  Sanskrit  cannot  be 
regarded  as  an  artificial  creation  of  the  grammarians,  for  its 
development  from  the  Vedas  through  the  Brahmanas  and  the 
Upanisads  can  be  clearly  traced.  The  Sanskrit  language,  which 
Panini  calls  bhasa,  or  speech,  is  closely  akin  to  the  language  of 
the  Upanisads  and  the  Brahmanas.  Though  this  bhasa  Sanskrit 
is  not  so  luxurious  in  form  as  the  Vedic  Sanskrit,  yet  there  is 


no  artificial  symmetry  and  there  is  a  profusion  of  nipatas  or 
irregular  forms  which  makes  the  study  of  Sanskrit  so  bewilder- 
ingly  difficult  to  students. 

Sanskrit  was  indeed  the  language  not  only  of  Mvya  or 
literature  but  of  all  the  Indian  sciences,  and  excepting  the  Pali 
of  the  Hmayana  Buddhists  and  the  Prakrt  of  the  Jains,  it  was 
the  only  language  in  which  the  whole  of  India  expressed  all  her 
best  thoughts  for  the  last  2  or  3  thousand  years,  and  it  has  united 
the  culture  of  India  and  given  it  a  synchronous  form  in  spite  of 
general  differences  of  popular  speech,  racial  and  geographical, 
economical  and  other  differences.  It  is  the  one  ground  that  has 
made  it  possible  to  develop  the  idea  of  Hindu  nationhood  in 
which  kinship  of  culture  plays  the  most  important  part.  Under 
the  shadow  of  one  Vedic  religion  there  had  indeed  developed 
many  subsidiary  religions,  Saiva,  Vaisaava,  Sakta,  etc.,  and 
within  each  of  these,  there  had  been  many  sects  and  sub-sects 
which  have  often  emphasised  the  domestic  quarrel,  but  in  spite 
of  it  all  there  is  a  unity  of  religions  among  the  Hindus,  for  the 
mother  of  all  religious  and  secular  culture  had  been  Sanskrit. 

Variations  from  Sanskrit  as  determined  by  Panini,  Katya- 
yana  and  Patanjali  may  occasionally  be  noticed  in  the  Ramayana, 
the  Mahdbharata  and  some  of  the  other  Puranas  and  Patanjal 
also  noticed  it  when  he  said  chandovat  kavayah  kurvanti  and 
an  early  poet  such  as  Kalidasa  also  sometimes  indulges  in  such 
poetical  licenses.  Lesser  poets  who  wrote  inscriptions  also  often 
showed  their  inability  to  conform  to  the  grammatical  rules  of 
Panini.  But  apart  from  this  the  Sanskrit  language  has  not 
suffered  any  change  in  the  course  of  ages.  It  must,  however,  be 
noted  that  the  technical  and  non-Brahminical  works  sometimes 
reveal  a  laxity  of  Sanskrit  speech  and  in  the  case  of  the  early 
Buddhist  writers  there  was  an  intentional  disregard  to  the  rules 
of  Panini,  probably  in  their  effort  towards  the  simplification  of 
the  Sanskrit  language.  The  most  notable  example  of  this  is  the 
gatha  language  of  the  Lalitamstara  and  similar  other  works. 
Sometimes  even  later  Brahminical  works  which  tried  to  bring  a 


halo  of  antiquity,  often  made  lapses  in  order  to  force  upon  the 
people  the  imeprssion  of  their  archaic  nature  as  may  be  found  in 
many  of  the  Tanfcra  works,  or  in  the  works  of  divination  and 
incantation  as  found  in  the  Bower  manuscripts  where  there  is 
ample  evidence  of  Prakrtism  and  careless  Sanskrit.  Instances, 
however,  are  not  rare  where  actual  Prakrt  forms  were  Sanskrit- 
ised.  The  incorporation  of  Dravidian  and  other  words  into 
Sanskrit  has  also  been  widely  recognised.  The  words  formed  by 

the  unadi  suffix  will  supply  innumerable  instances  of  how  current 


words  gained  a  footing  into  the  Sanskrit   language   and   fanciful 
derivations  were  attempted  to  justify  such  uses.  ' 

Not  only  in  fairly  early  times  was  Prakrt  used  for  the  edicts 
and  the  prasastis  but  it  was  also  used  in  writing  poetical  and 
prose  kdvyas  in  later  times.  The  word  Prakrta  is  seldom  used 
in  early  Sanskrit  in  the  sense  of  a  language.  Its  real  meaning 
is  '  original/  '  natural/  '  normal/  and  it  has  been  used  in  this 
sense  in  the  Vedic  literature  in  the  Prdtitdkhyas  and  the 
Srautasutras  and  also  in  Patafijali's  Mahabhasya.  The  word 
prdkrtamdnusa  is  used  in  the  sense  of  '  an  ordinary  man  '  or 
1  a  man  in  the  street.'  Hernacandra  says  that  Prakrta  is  so 
called  because  it  has  been  derived  from  Sanskrit  which  i? 
the  prakrti  or  source  (prakrtih  samskrtam  tatra  bhavam  tata 
dgatanca  prdkrtam).  But  there  is  another  view  as  held  by 
Pischel  where  the  Prakrt  is  derived  as  '  coming  from  nature 
without  any  special  instruction,  i.e.,  the  folk  language.  But  it 
is  impossible  for  us  to  decide  in  what  way  the  Prakrt  language 
grew.  In  the  writings  of  the  Prakrt  grammarians  and  writers 
on  Poetics,  the  term  denotes  a  number  of  distinctly  artificial 
dialects,  which,  as  they  stand  now,  could  hardly  have  been 
spoken  vernaculars.  Sir  George  Grierson  divides  Prakrt  into 
3  stages,  first,  the  primary  Prakrt,  from  which  the  Vedic  language 
and  Sanskrit  were  derived;  second,  secondary  Prakrt,  consisting 
of  Pali,  the  Prakfts  of  the  grammarians  and  literature  and  the 
Apabhram^as ;  the  third  Prakrt  consists  of  the  modern  verna- 
culars. But  the  inscriptions  of  A3oka  show  at  least  the  existence 


of   three   dialects,    the    Eastern   dialect   of    the   capital    which 
was  the  official  lingua  franca  of  the   Empire,  the  North-western 
and  the   Western    dialects.     We    next    find    the    post-A3okan 
Prakrts  in  the   inscriptions   and   the   Prakrt  of  A^vaghosa  of  the 
1st  century  A.D.     Here  we  find   the  old  Ardha-magadhi,  the  old 
Sauraseni   and   the    old    MagadhL     According    to    the  current 
tradition     the    Jaina    doctrines    preached    by    Mahavira    were 
delivered  in  Ardha-mlgadhi  but  the  scriptures  of  the   Svetambara 
Jainas  chat  are  now  available  have   been   very   much   influenced 
by  the  Maharastri  and   the  later   texts    were    written   in   Jaina 
Maharastri,  while  the    Digambara   scriptures  are   in    Sauraseni. 
The  Pai^acI   is   also   a    form   of    Prakrt   though  only  few  books 
written  in  this  dialect  are   now   available.     PaisacI  was  probably 
the  language  current  in  the  Vindhya  regiofi.     The  characteristics 
of  the  old  Prakrts   consist    largely   in  the  transformation  of  the 
vowels  r  and  I,  ai  and  au,  and  in  the  reduction  of  the  sibilants  and 
nasals  with  also  other   changes   in    consonants.     Literature  of  a 
secular  character  might  have  been   composed  in  old  Praskrts  until 
the  2nd  century  A.D.     But  about   that   date  new  changes  were 
effected  leading  to  the   transformation   of  the  old  Prakrt  to  a  new 
stage  of  development.       This    resulted   in    the  formation  of  the 
Maharastri   in   the   dominions  of  the    Satavahanua  in  the  South- 
west and  the  rise  of  the  Magadh!   and  the  Sauraseni,    as  may  be 
noticed  in  the  dramas  of  Bhasa  and  Asvaghosa  on  the  one  hand 
and  Kalidasa   on    the   other.     By  the  '2nd   century  A. Q.  we  find 
the    Maharastri    lyric    in    the    poems  of  Hala.     The  Maharastri 
Prakrt  became  important  as  the   Prakrt  of  the  dramas  and  of  the 
epic  poetry.     The  SaurasenT  was  but   occasionally    used  in  verse 
and   sometimes    in    the   dram.i.     The    SaurasenI  is  more  closely 
allied  to  Sanskrit  thin  the   Maharastri   and  it  was  generally  used 
in  dramas  by  men  of   good   and   noble   position.     The   MagadhI 
on  the  other  hand   was   reserved    for   people  of  low  rank.     The 
Natya-$astra  speaks,  however,  of  different  types  of  Prakrt  such  as 
Daksinatya,  Prdcya,  Xvantl  and  Dhakkl,  which  are  the  different 
type*  of  the  SaurasenI,  though   Candatt  and   Sakarl  are  types  of 


the  Magadhi.  The  Prakrt  of  the  verses  of  the  Natya-tastra  need 
not  be  assumed  to  be  the  Prakrt  of  a  different  fype  but  it  may 
well  be  regarded  as  a  variant  of  the  Sauraseni.  The  poetry  of 
&aurasenl  Prakrt  is  closely  akin  to  the  Maharastrl.  A  separate 
note  has  been  added  regarding  the  Apabhramsa,  the  importance 
of  which  for  literary  purposes  may  now  be  ignored. 

A  few  Histories  of  Sanskrit  Literature,  such  as  History 
of  Sanskrit  Literature  (1860)  by  Maxmiiller,  History  of  Indian 
Literature  (1878)  by  Weber,  Indiens  Litteratur  und  Kultur  (1887) 
by  L.  V.  Schroeder,  Literary  History  of  India  by  Frazer, 
History  of  Sanskrit  Literature  (1900)  by  Macdonell,  Die  Litteratur 
des  alien  Indiens  (1903)  by  Oldenberg,  Les  Litteratures  de 
VInde  (1904)  by  V.  Henry,  G-eschichte  der  Indischen  Litteratur 
by  Winternitz,  Sanskrit  Drama  (1924),  History  of 
Sanskrit  Literature  (1928),  as  well  as  Classical  Sanskrit 
Literature  by  Keith,  and  Geschichte  der  Sanskrit-philologie  und 
Indischen  Altertumskunde  (1917,  Vol.  I  and  L920,  Vol.  II) 
by  Windisch,  have  been  written.  Of  these,  Winternitz's  work 
in  three  volumes  seems  to  be  the  most  comprehensive  treatment. 
The  Calcutta  University  had  completed  the  English  translation 
of  the  first  two  volumes  under  the  supervision  of  Professor 
Winternitz  himself.  The  English  translation  of  Volume  IIT 
had  advanced  a  little  when  Professor  Winternitz  died.  The 
Calcutta  University  had  then  entered  into  correspondence  with 
some  European  scholars  about  the  supervision  of  the  translation 
of  Volume  III.  This  correspondence  having  failed,  I  was 
approached  by  the  University  to  undertake  the  work  and 
it  was  proposed  by  me  that  as  the  translation  of  Volume  III  had 
only  advanced  but  little,  it  would  be  better  to  plan  another  work 
dealing  with  the  subjects  that  form  the  content  of  Volume  III 
of  Professor  Winternitz's  work.  It  was  also  felt  necessary  that 
the  title  of  the  book,  as  it  appeared  in  Professor  Winternitz's 
work,  History  of  Indian  Literature,  should  be  changed  to  History 
of  Sanskrit  Literature ,  as  "  Indian  Literature  "  is  too  vast  a 
subject  to  be  taken  up  as  a  sort  of  appendage  to  the  history  of 


Sanskrit  literature,  as  Prof.  Winternitz  had  done.  As  my 
hands  at  the  time  were  too  full  with  other  works,  it  was  arranged 
that  under  my  chief  editorship  within  an  Editorial  Board  the 
work  should  be  done  by  subscription  by  the  scholars  of  Bengal. 
Volume  I  deals  with  Kavya  and  Alamkara  and  Volume  II  is 
expected  to  deal  with  other  Technical  Sciences.  In  Volume  If 
I  had  the  good  fortune  to  get  the  co-operation  of  Prof.  Dr.  S.  K. 
Da  in  writing  out  the  portion  on  Kavya.  But  for  his  valuable 
scholarly  assistance  and  promptness  of  execution  the  publication 
of  Volume  1  might  have  been  long  delayed.  I  have  tried  to 
supplement  Prof.  De's  treatment  with  an  Introduction  and 
additional  Editorial  Notes  and  it  is  expected  that  these  may  also 
prove  helpful  to  students.  Our  indebtedness  to  Prof.  Wjnternitz's 
German  Edition,  Vol.  Ill,  and  Prof.  Keith's  works,  as  well  as  to 
other  Western  and  Indian  scholars,  cannot  be  exaggerated.  For 
want  of  space  it  was  not  possible  to  go  into  greater  details 
regarding  the  Alamkara-Sastra,  but  I  hope  that  what  appears 
there  may  be  deemed  sufficient  for  a  general  history  of  Sanskrit 
literature.  The  Introduction  is  intended  to  give  a  proper 
perspective  for  reviewing  the  history  of  Sanskrit  literature  in  its 
background  of  racial,  social  and  historical  environment,  an 
appreciation  of  which  I  consider  essential  for  grasping  the 
significance  of  the  Sanskrit  literary  culture. 

It  is  to  be  regretted  that  some  of  the  contributions,  such  as 
those  on  the  Historical  Kavyas,  or  the  elements  of  literature  in 
the  Inscriptions,  or  the  Prakrt  literature,  could  not  be  incorporat- 
ed in  the  present  volumel  though  these  should  have  been  included 
here.  This  was  due  to  the  fact  that  those  contributions  were 
not  received  in  time.  It  is  expected,  however,  that  these  will 
appear  in  Volume  II.  la  the  meanwhile,  both  in  the  body  of 
the  book  and  in  the  Editorial  Notes  some  general  estimates  have 
been  taken  of  these,  though  very  little  has  been  said  about  the 
elements  of  literature  in  Inscriptions. 

By  way  of  confession  of  a  hasty  observation  in  the  Alamkara 
section  that  the  Latin  word  aurum  may  be  connected  with  the 

B(l)— 1343B 

word  alam  in  Sanskrit  I  beg  to  point  out  that  since  that  section 
has  been  printed,  an  eminent  philologist  has  assured  me  that 
neither  aurum  is  Latin  nor  can  it  be  philologically  connected  with 
alam  in  Sanskrit. 

In  conclusion,  I  like  to  express  my  thanks  to  Mr.  Krishna- 
gopal  Goswami,  Sastri,  M.A.,"  P.R.S.,  Smriti-Mimansa-Tirtha, 
Lecturer  in  the  Post-Graduate  Department  of  Sanskrit  of  the 
University  of  Calcutta,  who  has  kindly  prepared  a  list  of  contents 
aad  a  detailed  Index  for  this  volume. 



Since  on  account  of  circumstances  over  which  there  was  no 
control  the  publication  has  been  unusually  delayed  for  nearly  six 
years,  I  owe  an  apology  for  my  inability  in  bringing  the  work 
up  to  date. 

University  of  Dacca,      )  __ 

1948.  5  S.  K.  DE. 


Winternitz,  in  Vol.  Ill  of  bis  History  of 
Indian  Literature ,  German  Edition,  speaks  of  "the 
Sutas  as  the  representatives  of  the  old  heroic  poetry 
who  lived  in  the  court  of  the  princes  and  sang  to  extol 
them.  They  also  went  forth  to  battle  so  as  to  be 
able  to  sing  of  the  heroic  deeds  of  the  warriors  from 
their  own  observation.  These  court  bards  stood 
closer  to  the  warriors  than  to  the  learned  Brahmins. 
They  also  acted  as  charioteers  of  the  warriors 
in  their  campaigns  and  took  part  in  their  martial 

But  Winternitz  does  not  give  any  reference 
from  which  he  draws  his  views  about  the  suta  as  the 
traditional  keeper  of  heroic  poetry.  The  siiia  occurs 
along  with  the  rathakara  and  karmara  in  the  AtJiarva 
Veda  III,  5,  6,  7.  We  find  reference  to  this  suta  in 
Gautama  (IV.  15),  Baudhayana  (10,  I.  9.  9.),  VaSistha 
(XVIII.  6),  Mann  (X.  II),  Visnu  Dh.  S.  (XVI.  6), 
Yaj.  (I.  3.),  and  the  Suta-samhita,  where  he  appears  as 
a  pratiloma  caste  born  of  a  Ksattriya  male  and  a 
Brahmin  female.  Kautilya  says  in  his  Arthasastra 
(III.  7)  that  Romaharsana,  called  also  Suta  in 
the  Puranas,  was  not  born  out  of  a  pratiloma 
marriage.  The  suta  has  been  referred  to  as  sacred  in 
the  Visnupurana  and  the  Agnipurana.  The  duty  of 
the  sutas  according  to  Manu  (X.  47)  was  to  drive 
chariots  and  according  to  the  Vaikhanasa-smarta-sutra 
(X.  13)  it  was  a  part  of  his  livelihood  to  remind  the 
king  of  his  duties  and  cook  food  for  him.  According  to 
Karnaparva  (XXXII,  46.  47),  Sutas  were  the  servants 

of  the  sat  as 

accord  ing  to 


Sutas  were 
not  repOBi- 
t  o  r  i  e  a  of 


(paricdrakas)  of  the  Ksattriyas.  According  to  Vayu- 
purdna  (Ch.  I.),  the  Sutas  used  to  preserve  the 
pedigrees  of  kings  and  great  men  and  also  the  traditions 
of  learning  and  books.  But  nowhere  do  we  find 
that  Sutas  had  any  other  work  than  those  said 
above  or  that  they  ever  played  the  part  of  a  bard 
reciting  the  glories  of  the  kings  or  were  in  any 
sense  the  depository  of  heroic  poetry.  His  chief  duty 
was  the  taming  of  elephants*  driving  chariots  and 
riding  horses.  The  difference  between  suta  and  ratha- 
kdra  is  that  the  former  was  born  from  Ksattriya  male 
and  Brahmin  female  in  wedlock,  the  other  out  of 
wedlock  through  clandestine  union. 
Artificiality  rjijie  theory  that  these  bards  were  gradually 

not    an    in-  ^  °  * 

dispensable     superseded  by  erudite  poets  also  demands   confirmation. 

character  \  J  L 

of  Sanskrit  It  is  also  doubtful  to  affirm  that  the  poets  always 
described  fights  and  battles  from  hearsay.  Judging 
from  the  Mahabharata  and  the  state  of  events  given  in 
it  in  terms  of  tithis  and  naksatras  which  synchronise 
throughout  the  whole  book,  one  should  think  that  there 
were  either  dated  notes  of  events  or  that  the  poets 
themselves  according  to  some  definite  traditions  syn- 
chronised the  dates.  Again,  we  know  so  little  of  the 
earlier  poetry  that  we  have  no  right  to  say  that  in 
earlier  poetry  greater  stress  was  laid  to  form  and  erudi- 
tion. The  artificial  poetry  began  at  a  much  later  date, 
from  the  6th  or  the  7th  century.  Neither  in  the 
Rdmdyana  nor  in  the  Mahabharata  do  we  find  any 
influence  of  artificiality.  Whatever  may  have  been  said 
in  the  Tantrdkhydyikd  (1.321),  the  Mahabharata  is 
regarded  as  an  itihasa,  and  seldom  regarded  as  a  kdvya 
which  place  is  assigned  to  the  Rdmdyana.  It  is  also 
doubtful  (at  least  there  is  hardly  any  evidence)  that  th$ 
panegyrics  were  the  first  thing  of  kdvya.  It  is  also 
wrong  to  hold  thatthe  Kdvya  style  means  an  ornate  style. 



At  least  none  of  the  rhetoricians  hold  this  view  and 
there  is  hardly  any  evidence  in  its  favour.  Winternitz, 
therefore,  is  entirely  wrong  when  he  says,  "  The  more 
strenuous  the  effort  of  the  poet,  the  more  '  ornate '  his 
expressions,  and  the  more  difficult  his  work  of  art,  the 
more  did  the  prince  feel  flattered  by  it."  The  earliest 
Sanskrit  rhetorician  Bhamaha  holds  a  different  view 
regarding  kdvya.  He  says  that  even  if  kdvya  requires  P°etry 
explanatory  interpretation  like  a  Sdstra,  then  it  would 
indeed  be  a  matter  of  great  regret  for  the  common  man. 
This  signifies  that  at  least  Bhamaha  thought  that  kdvya 
should  be  written  in  such  a  manner  that  it  should  be 
intelligible  to  all.  He  says  further  that  there  are 
indeed  different  types  of  style  but  it  is  only  that  type 
of  style  which  is  intelligible  to  the  ignorant,  to  women 
and  children,  that  is  sweet.  Thus,  in  II.  1-3,  he 
says  :  mddhuryam  abhivdnchantah  prasddam  ca  sume- 
dhasah  \  xamdsavanti  bhuydmsi  na  paddni  prayunjate  II 
kecidojo'bhidhitsantah  samasyanti  bahunyapi  II  travyam 
ndtisamastdrtham  kdvyam  madhuramisyate  \  cividva- 
dahgandbdlapratitdrtham  prasddavat  II 

It  should  be  noted  that  this  opinion  of  Bhamaha  is 
based  upon  the  study  of  previous  good  poetry  and  the 
opinions  of  other  poets.  Thus,  he  says  in  the  colophon 
of  his  work  : 

avalokya  matdni  satkavlndm  avagamya  svadhiyd  ca 
kdvyalaksma  \ 

sujandvagamdya  bhdmahena  grathitam  rakrilagomi- 
sununedam  \ 

This  opinion  may  be  confirmed  by  reference  to 
the  -writings  of  other  rhetoricians  who  followed 
Bhamaha.  It  is  a  pity  that  Winternitz  should  have 
such  an  unfounded  and  uncharitable  opinion  of  Indian 
poetry.  It  is  also  difficult  to  imagine  why  Winternitz 

t  i  o  n  of 
K  i  v  y  a  as 
p  o  el r  y " 



view  of 


should  render  kavya  as  ornate  poetry,  which  he   defines 
as  that  in  which  "the  poet  makes  it  his  highest   ambi- 
tion  to  astonish  his  readers  or  hearers  by  as   numerous, 
as  original  and  as  elaborate  similes  as   possible/1     His 
remarks  about  ornate  poetry  apply  only  to  the   poets  of 
a  degenerate  time,  when  the  true  ideals   of   real   poetry 
was  lost   sight  of  and   when   the  poets    had   to   pose 
themselves  as  great  pundits.     It  is  no   doubt   true  that 
many  of  the  famous  poets  like  Bhatti,    Magha   or    Sri- 
harsa  follow  the  worst  standard  of  artificial    poetry  and 
indeed  Bhatti  boasts  that  his  kavya  is   such    that   it   is 
not  intelligible  without   explanation  ;    yet   it   must   be 
pointed  out  that  this  was  not  the  opinion  of  the   critics 
of  literature  and  that  for  that  reason  kavya  style  should 
not  be  confounded  with  artificiality.    During  the  period 
that  many  of  these  poets  flourished  there    was  such    an 
ascendancy  of  the  scholarly  philosophers,  that  the  poets 
often  thought  that    learning    was   greater    than    poetry 
and  they  tried   to   pose   their    learning    through    their 
poetry.     But  I  do  not  see  how  a   poet   like    Asvaghosa 
can  be  regarded  as   a    representative   of   ornate    poetry 
in   the  same  sense   in    which   Mahaksattrapa    Rudra- 
daman's  inscription-texts  can  be  regarded  as  ornate. 

Prof.  Winternitz  contended  that  to  know  of  the 
origin  of  ornate  poetry  we  must  know  the  origin  of  the 
Alamkara  literature  and  he  seems  to  imply  that  that  type 
of  literature  may  be  called  ornate  in  which  an  acquaint- 
ance with  the  Alamkara  literature  or  its  principles  may 
be  presupposed.  He  held  further  that  surely  Valmlki 
did  not  as  yet  know  any  manual  of  poetics.  But  what 
is  the  reason  for  such  an  assurance  ?  We  know  that 
upamas  were  well-known  even  in  Vedic  times  and 
Yaska  deals  with  upama  in  a  fairly  systematic  manner. 
Panini  also  seems  to  be  fairly  acquainted  with  some  of 
the  fundamental  types  of  upama.  We  have  also  reasons 



to  believe  that  the  alamkara  type  of  thought  had  its 
origin  in  the  Vyakarana  school.  We  do  not  also  know 
that  there  were  no  treatises  of  alamkara  written  before 

The  comments  that  have  been  made  above  will  show 
that  the  theory  of  ornate  poetry  (kunstdichtung)  is  beset 
with  many  difficulties.  Though  it  is  needless  to  trace 
the  origin  of  Sanskrit  Kavyas  to  the  Vedas  or  the 
Brahmanas,  it  cannot  be  decided  that  some  of  the  early 
Upanisads  like  the  Katha,  Mundaka  and  the  fivetdtva- 
tara  contain  verses  in  the  classical  style.  Indeed  the 
style  of  the  Mahabharata  and  the  Gita  may  be  regarded 
as  the  prolongation  of  the  classical  style  which  had 
begun  already  at  the  time  of  the  Upanisads.  Among 
the  early  literature  the  Kamayana  and  the  Mahabharata 
(though  the  latter  is  called  itihasa)  must  be  regarded  as 
the  earliest  literature  of  the  Kavya  form  that  is  available 
to  us.  Rhetoricians  in  a  much  later  time  have  quoted 
verses  from  the  Mahabharata  to  demonstrate  the  theory 
of  pyanjana  and  (junibhtita-ryanjana.1  Though  there 
is  a  difference  of  atmosphere  in  the  Mahabharata 
which  lays  greater  stress  on  the  practical  problems 
of  life  and  conflict  of  ideals,  yet  the  atmosphere  of 
Rdmdyana  is  not  far  removed  from  that  of  Kalidasa. 
As  Dr.  De  has  shown,  we  can  hardly  trace  the  origin 
of  Sanskrit  Kavyas  to  Prakrt  sources.  It  has  also 
been  pointed  out  by  Dr.  De  that  the  theory  of 
Renaissance  of  Sanskrit  Kavya  in  the  5th  or  6th 
century  A.D.,  as  proposed  by  Maxmiiller,  cannot 
properly  be  supported.  It  is  true  that  no  extant 

Birect  evo- 
lution of 
the    classical 
style  from 
the     Vcdic 

The  theory 
of   the    Re- 
of  Sioskrit 

1  See  Mahabharata,  Striparva,  Chap.  XXIV,  verse  17.—'*  ay  am  sa  rasanot- 
karsl,  etc."  Also,  Santtparva  Apad  lharma,  Chap.  153,  verses  11  and  1'2. 
These  have  bien  referred  to  in  tlie  Kdvyapraktita,  Chip.  V,  verses  45  and  46, 
as  examples  of  gnnibhuta  vyahgya,  and  Chap.  IV,  as  example  of  prabandha 

C— 1843B 



of  the  Kavya 

of  the  Kavya 

kavyas  of  any  importance  are  available  before  A6va- 
ghosa.  But  there  are  plenty  of  references  scattered 
over  which  suggest  the  existence  of  'a  fairly  good  field 
of  Kfwya  literature  during  the  5th  to  the  1st  century 
B.C.  Even  Panini  is  said  to  have  written  a  work 
called  Jambavatlvijaya  and  Pataujali  refers  to  a  kdvya 
by  Vararuci. 

Patanjali  also  refers  to  three  akhyayikas,  Vasava- 
datta,  Sumanottara,  and  Bhaimarathl,  and  two  dramas 
called  Kamsabadha  and  Balibandha.  He  also  quotes  a 
number  of  verses  from  which  the  continuity  is  apparent. 
Lalitavistara  also  mentions  Mvya-Mrana  as  a  subject 
which  was  studied  by  Buddha.  These  and  various  other 
reasons  adduced  in  the  text  show  fairly  conclusively  the 
existence  of  Kavya  literature  from  the  2nd  century  B.C. 
to  the  2nd  century  A.D.  It  has  already  been  noticed 
that  many  of  the  verses  of  the  Upanisads  may  well 
have  been  included  in  a  classical  work  of  Mvya  in  later 
times.  But  most  of  the  literature  has  now  been  lost. 

A£vaghosa's  Kavya  as  well  as  Kudradamana's 
inscriptions  show  an  acquaintance  with  the  principles 
of  alamkara.  The  Prakrt  inscriptions  of  the  first  two 
centuries  of  the  Christian  era  as  well  as  many  texts  of 
the  Buddhists  or  the  verses  later  found  in  the  Pali 
Jatakas  all  reveal  the  fact  that  they  were  written  on 
the  model  of  Sanskrit  writings  of  their  time.  The 
writings  of  Matrceta,  Kumaralata,  Arya-6ura,  so  far  as 
they  have  been  recovered,  and  the  verses  that  are  found 
in  the  Camka-samhita  also  confirm  the  view  that  the 
Kavya  style  was  flourishing  at  the  time  and  this  could 
not  have  been  the  case  if  there  were  no  poetical 
texts  at  the  time.  There  is  also  reason  to  believe  that 
erotics,  dramaturgy,  the  art  of  dancing  and  singing 
were  all  keeping  pace  with  the  literary  development  of 
the  time. 



But  definite  dates  of  the  poets  in  the  history  of  Indian 
literature  are  difficult  to  be  got.  The  Aihole  inscription 
of  634  A.I),  mentions  the  names  of  Kalidasa  and 
Bbaravi  and  we  know  that  Bana  flourished  in  the 
7th  century  A.D.  They  are  the  two  fixed  landmarks 
in  the  early  chronology  of  Sanskrit  poets.  The 
testimony  of  Bana  as  well  as  the  other  references 
that  we  find  of  the  existence  of  many  poets  at  the 
time  prove  fairly  conclusively  that  the  4th  and  5th 
centuries  may  be  regarded  as  a  very  prominent  period 
of  literary  production.  This  gets  further  confirmation 
from  the  evidence  of  inscriptions  which  are  written  in 
a  fine  literary  style.  Already  from  the  evidence  of 
Bhamaha  we  know  that  many  writers  on  alamkara  had 
flourished  before  him  and  that  he  had  drawn  on  them 
in  the  composition  of  his  work.  The  panegyric  of 
Samudragupta  by  Harisena  (about  350  A.D.)  may  be 
taken  as  a  typical  case. 

But  from  the  Oth  century  onwards  we  find  that  the 
poets  often  manifest  a  tendency  for  display  of  learning 
and  scholarship  and  skill  in  the  manipulation  of  Mords 
and  verbosity  and  a  studied  use  of  alamkaras.  We  know 
that  in  the  4th  century  Yasubandhu  had  written  his 
Abhidharmakosa.  in  this  great  work  he  mercilessly 
criticised  not  only  other  schools  of  Buddhism  but  also 
the  Hindu  schools  of  philosophy,  such  as  Samkhya, 
Vaisesika  and  the  like.  Dinnaga  and  Vatsyayana 
flourished  about  the  5th  century  A.D.  and  from  this 
time  onward  the  quarrel  of  the  philosophers  and  learned 
scholars  of  divergent  schools  began  to  grow  into  such 
importance  that  it  practically  influenced  every  other 
department  of  thought.  The  old  simplicity  of  style 
which  we  find  in  Patanjali  and  Savara  had  now 
disappeared.  Saiikara  and  Jayanta  who  flourished 
probably  in  the  7th  and  9lh  century  are  indeed  noble 

in  the  first 
six    hundred 
years  of  the 

of    style  in 
later   times 
from     sim. 
plicity      to 


exceptions,  but  even  then  the  difference  between  their 
style  and  that  of  Patanjali  and  Savara,  is  indeed  very 
great.  Learning  appealed  to  people  more  than  poetic 
freshness.  We  can  well  imagine  that  when  most  of 
the  great  poets  flourished  in  the  court-atmosphere 
where  great  scholars  came  and  showed  their  skill  in 
debate  and  wrangle,  learning  and  scholarship  was 
more  appreciated  than  pure  fancy  of  poetry.  Rabindra- 
nath  draws  a  fine  picture  of  such  a  situation  in  which 
he  depicts  the  misfortune  of  the  poet  Sekhara. 
Learning  ^r-  De  has  in  a  very  impressive  manner  described 

the   court  atmosphere  and   how  it  left  its  mark  on 
Sanskrit  poetry.     As  a  result  of  the  particular  demand 
in  the  court  atmosphere  the  natural  spontaneity   of  the 
poet   was  at  a  discount.     The  learning  and  adaptation 
to  circumstances  was  given  more  importance   than   the 
pure  flow  of  genius.     Thus,  Mammata,  the  celebrated 
rhetorician  in  discussing  the  nature  of   poetic   powers 
say?    that  poetic   power  is   the  skill  that  is  derived  by 
a  study  of  human  behaviour,  learning,  familiarity   with 
literature,  history  and  the  like,  training  taken  from  one 
who  understands  literature   and  exercise.1    There   was 
the  other   important    thing   for  a  court   poet  that  he 
should  be  a  vidagdha  or  possess  the  court  culture,  and 
Dandin  also  says  that  even  if  the  natural   powers  be 
slender,  one  may  make  himself  suitable  for  the  company 
of  the  vidagdha  through  constant  practice.     This  shows 
that  learning  and  exercise  were  given  a  greater  place  of 
importance    than   the    natural    spontaneity    of  poetic 
genius.     As  a  result  of  this  Sanskrit  poetry  not  only 
became    artificial  but  followed  a  traditional  scheme  of 
description  and  an  adaptation  of  things.    The  magic 
of  the  Sanskrit  language,  the  sonorousness  of  its  word- 

loka&strakSvjSdyavekgaQit  I 
Hi  hetusladudbhave  II 



jingle  also  led  the  poets  astray  and  led  them  to  find  their 
amusement  in  verbal  sonorousness.  But  whatever  may 
be  said  against  long  compounds  and  punsjt^cannot  also 
be  denied  that  the  Sanskrit  language  has  the  special 
genius  of  showing  its  grandeur  and  majesty  through 
a  noble  gait.  An  Arab  horse  may  be  more  swift 
and  effective  for  all  practical  purposes  but  a  well-adorned 
elephant  of  a  high  size  has  a  grace  in  its  movement 
which  cannot  be  rivalled  by  a  horse.  These  long 
compounds  even  in  prose  give  such  a  natural  swing 
when  supplemented  with  the  puns  and  produce  an  exhil- 
aration which,  though  may  not  be  exactly  of  the  poetic 
type,  has  yet  its  place  in  the  aesthetic  atmosphere 
which  is  well  illustrated  in  the  writings  of  Bana  and 
in  many  inscriptions. 

The  sloka  form  in  which  the  Sanskrit  Kavyas  are 
generally  written  renders  the  whole  representation  into 
little  fragmentary  pictures — which  stand  independently 
by  themselves  and  this  often  prevents  the  development 
of  a  joint  effect  as  a  unitary  whole.  The  story  or  the 
plot  becomes  of  a  secondary  interest  and  thejuain  atten- 
tion of  the  reader  is  drawn  to  the  poetical  effusions  of 
the  writer  as  expressed  in  little  pictures.  It  is  curious 
also  to  notice  that  excepting  a  few  poets  of  the  type  of 
Bhavabhiiti,  the  rugged,  the  noble  and  the  forceful 
elements  of  our  sentiments  or  of  the  natural  objects 
could  hardly  be  dealt  with  success.  Even  Kalidasa 
failed  in  his  description  of  sublime  and  sombre  scenes. 
His  description  of  the  lamentation  of  Eati  at  the  death 
of  Madana  in  the  Kuniarasambhava  has  no  tragic  effect 
on  us  and  it  seems  to  be  merely  the  amorous  sentiment 
twisted  upside  down. 

In  studying  the  literature  of  a  country,  we  cannot 
very  well  take  out  of  our  consideration  a  general  cultural 
history  of  its  people.  The  Aryans  after  their  migration 

Some  cba- 
of  Sanskrit, 

social      res- 
trictions on 


to   India   bad  come  to   live   in   a  country  peopled  by 
aliens  having  a  culture  far  below  their  own   (excepting 
probably   the   Dravidians)    whose  cultural    and    other 
tastes    were    entirely    different.     The    great    problem 
before     them    was     the    problem    of    the    fusion    of 
races.     It   was  the   main   concern   of   the    leaders  of 
society  to  protect  the  purity  of  the  race,  its   culture  and 
religion   as   far  as  possible.     They  initiated  the  system 
of   varnasrama  and  enunciated  rigorous  regulations  for 
the  respective   duties   of   the  four   varnas.     There    is 
ample    evidence     in    the   Smrtis  that   inspite  of   the 
rigorous  regulations,  these  were  often   violated   and   as 
time  passed  on,  rigours  increased.     Thus  marriage  with 
girls  of  lower  varnas  which   was  allowed  at  one   stage 
was  entirely  stopped  in  later  times.     There  is,  however, 
evidence  to  show  that   marriages   took   place  not  only 
with   the   girls  of   lower   varnas   but   many  kings  had 
devoted  Greek  wives.     But  still  the   problem   of  fusion 
of    races    gradually    increased    when    the   Huns,   the 
Scythians  and  the  Greeks  not  only  entered  the  country 
and   lived   there   but   became   Hinduised.     So  long  as 
many  rulers  of   the   country    were   given    to    military 
adventures   and   the  people   as   a    whole  entered   into 
commercial  negotiations  and  intercourses  with  different 
countries  and  established  settlements  in  different  lands 
— the  balance  or   the  equilibrium    of    society    had    a 
dynamic   vigour   in   it.     Intercourse  with  other  people 
stagnating   on  equal  terms  expanded  the  mental  vista,   but   when, 

effect  of  the  ^  f  . 

rigorous  for  reasons  unknown,  there  came  a  period  of  stagnation 
of  smrti.  and  people  became  more  or  less  narrow  and  provincial, 
they  lacked  vigour  and  energy  of  free  thought.  In 
society  the  rigour  of  social  rules  increased,  and  people 
followed  these  rules  inspite  of  the  fact  that  obedience  to 
such  rules  was  in  direct  contradiction  to  the  professed 
systems  of  philosophy.  Philosophy  became  divested  of 


social  life  and  whatever  divergence   there  might   have 
been  in  the  philosophical  speculations  of  different  sects 
and   communities — they   became  equally   loyal  to  the 
same  smrti  laws.   vWhen    the    smdrta    followed    the 
injunctions  of  smrti   on  the  belief   that   they   all   ema- 
nated  from  the  Vedas,   the    Vaisriava     followed     the 
same  smrti  rules  on   the  ground   that   they   were  the 
command  meats  of  God.     The  maxim  of  the  Mlmdmsd 
was  that  no  smrti  laws  would  have  any  validity  if 
they  are  not  supported  by  the  Vedas.     But  there   were 
really   many  smrti  laws  about  which  no  evidence  could 
be  found  in  the  Vedas.     The  legal  fiction  was  invented 
that  where  corroborative  Vedic  texts  were  not  available, 
one  should  suppose  that  they  existed  but  were  lost.  The 
whole  effort   was   suicidal.     It  denied  in  principle  the 
normal  human  fact  that  society  is  a  human  institution. 
With    the    change     of    condition   and   circumstances, 
material  wants  and  means  of    production   and  external 
influences  of  diverse  kinds,   man  must  change  and  with 
the  change  of  man,  the  social   institutions,  duties  and 
obligations  must   also  change.     The   attempt  to  bind 
with  iron  chains  all  movements  of  society,  so  that  these 
must  adapt  themselves  to  the  conditions  that  prevailed 
in  Vedic  times,  was  like  the  attempt  of  the  Chinese  to 
make  the  feet  of  the  ladies  manacled   in   iron  shoes,  so 
that   when  the  lady   grew   to  the  adult  age,  her  feet 
should   remain    like  those  of  a  baby.     This  extreme 
conservatism  of  social  laws  had  an  extremely  depressive 
effect  as  regards  the  freedom  of  mind   and  it  enslaved 
the  temper  of  the  mind  and   habituated  it  to  respect  the 
older  traditions  at   the  expense  of  common  sense  and 
wisdom.     The  elasticity  of  mind  that   we  find   in  the 
Mahdbharata  soon  disappeared  and  people  got  themselves 
accustomed  to  think  in  terms  invented  for  them  by  their 
predecessors.     Yet  it  is  not  true  that  they  were  always 


faithful  and  loyal  to  the  customs  of  Vedic  times*  Any 
Brahmin  or  community  of  Brahmins  of  influence  could 
make  a  smrti  law  which  proved  binding  to  successive 
generations  of  people.  This  may  be  illustrated  by  the 
case  of  beef-eating.  Beef-eating  is  a  recognised  Vedic 
custom  and  even  to-day  when  marriage  ceremonies  are 
performed,  there  is  a  particular  mantra  which  signifies 
that  a  cow  has  been  brought  for  the  feast  of  the  bride- 
groom and  the  bride-groom  replies  out  of  pity  that  the 
cow  need  not  be  butchered  for  his  gratification.  But 
yet  according  to  the  later  smrti,  cow-killing  or  beef- 
eating  is  regarded  as  one  of  the  major  crimes.  Again, 
while  sea-voyage  was  allowed  in  ancient  times  and 
therefore  had  the  sanction  of  the  Vedic  literature,  it  ha.* 
..been  prohibited  by  the  later  smrti.  The  list  of  kali- 
varjyas  may  all  be  taken  as  instances  of  drawing  up  a 
tighter  noose  at  the  neck  of  the  society.  Thus,  there  was 
not  merely  the  convenient  fiction  on  behalf  of  the  .smrti 
but  even  injunctions  that  were  distinctly  opposed  to  the 
older  Vedic  practices,  which  were  forced  upon  the  people 
by  the  later  codifiers  of  smrti  for  the  guidance  of  society. 
It  is  difficult  to  understand  how  the  injunctions  of  the 
smrti  writers  derived  any  authoritative  value.  Probably 
in  some  cases  many  older  instances  had  gone  out  of 
practice  or  become  repugnant  to  the  people,  or  that  the 
codification  of  some  smrti  writers  might  have  had  the 
backing-of  a  ruling  prince  and  was  for  the  matter  of  that 
held  sacred  in  his  kingdom.  But  it  may  also  have  been 
that  some  smrti  writers  had  risen  to  great  eminence 
and  authority  and  by  virtue  of  the  peoples'  confidence 
in  him,  his  decisions  became  authoritative.  In  the  case 
of  Raghunandana,  who  lived  in  Navadwipa  about  500 
years  ago,  we  find  that  either  by  personal  influence  or  by 
propaganda  he  succeeded  in  making  his  views  and  inter- 
pretation stand  supreme  in  Bengal  in  preference  to  the 


Views   of  older   smrti  authorities  like  Yajnavalkya   or 

Dharma£astras   were   probably   in   existence  before 
Yaska,    but   the  important  Dharmatastras  of  Gautama,     the 

'  _r  *       sattra  and 

Baudhayana  and  Apastamba  probably  flourished  bet- 
ween  600  and  300  B.C.  Before  the  Dharmagastras  or 
the  Dharmasutras  we  have  the  Grhyasutras.  The 
Hiranyake£i  Dharmasulras  were  probably  written  some- 
times about  the  4th  century  A.D.  The  Va&stha 
Dharmasutra  was  probably  in  existence  in  the  1st  or  the 
2nd  century  of  the  Christian  era.  The  Visnu  Dharma- 
sutra had  probably  an  earlier  beginning,  but  was 
thoroughly  recast  in  the  8th  or  the  9th  century  A.D.  The 
Harita  was  probably  written  somewhere  about  the  5th 
century  A.D.  The  versified  tiahkha  is  probably  a 
work  of  later  date  though  it  may  have  had  an  earlier 
version.  We  have  then  the  smrtis  of  Atri,  U6anas, 
Kanva,  Kagyapa,  Gargya,  Cyavana,  Jatukarna,  Pai- 
thlnasi,  Brhaspati,  Bharadvaja,  Satatapa,  Sumanta,  of 
which  the  dates  are  uncertain.  But  most  of  the 
smrtis  other  than  the  older  ones  were  written*  during 
the  period  400  to  1000  A.D.  In  ancient  times  the 
number  of  smrtis  must  have  been  very  small  and  the 
extent  of  limitations  imposed  by  them  were  also  not  so 
great.  Thus,  Baudhayana  speaks  only  of  Aupajangham, 
Katya,  Kagyapa,  Gautama,  Prajapati,  Maudgalya, 
Harita.  Vasistha  mentions  only  Gautama,  Prajapati, 
Manu,  Yama  and  Harita.  Apastamba  mentions  ten. 
Manu  speaks  of  only  six  besides  himself,  such  as,  Atri. 
Bbrgu,  Vasistha,  Vaikhanasa  and  Saunaka.  But  in  all 
their  works  the  writers  are  mentioned  only  casually  and 
there  is  no  regular  enumeration  of  writers  on  Dharma  in 
one  place.  Yajnavalkya  is  probably  the  earliest  writer 
who  enumerated  twenty  expounders  of  Dharma.  Kuma- 
rila  who  flourished  in  the  7th  and  the  8th  century  speaks 

D— 1843B 


of  18  Dharma  Samhitas.  We  have  then  the  24  Dharmd 
Samhitas  which  in  addition  to  Yajnavalkya's  list 
contains  6  more.  There  is  another  smrti  called 
Sattrimhnmata  quoted  by  Mitdksara  which  contains 
36  smrtis.  The  Vrddhagautama  Smrti  gives  a  list  of  57 
dharma-sastras  and  the  Prayoga-parijata  gives  a  list  of 
18  principal  smrtis,  18  upasmrtis  and  21  smrtikdras.  The 
Later  Smrtis  Nirnayasmdhu  and  the  Mayu hh a  of  Nllakantha  gives  a 
list  of  100  smrtis.  Thus  as  time  advanced  the  number 
of  smrti  authorities  increased  and  there  was  gradually 
more  and  more  tightening.  TheManusmrti  had  probably 
attained  its  present  form  by  the  2nd  century  A.D.  and 
the  Ydjflavalkyasmrti  was  probably  composed  in  the  3rd 
oHth  century  A.D.  We  find  that  though  the  smrtis  had 
begun  at  an  early  date  and  were  supposed  to  have  been 
based  upon  Vedic  injunctions  and  customs,  yet  new 
smrti  authorities  sprang  up  giving  new  injunctions 
which  can  hardly  be  traced  to  Vedic  authorities.  Many 
of  the  older  authorities  were  again  and  again  revised  to 
harmonise  the  changes  made  and  these  revised  editions 
passed  off  as  the  old  ones  as  there  was  no  critical 
apparatus  of  research  for  distinguishing  the  new  from 
the  old. 

The  Puranas  also  indulged  in  the  accretions  of  the 
many  materials  of  the  Dharma-tdstra.  From  the  10th 
century  onwards  we  have  a  host  of  commentators  of 
smrtis  and  writers  of  digests  or  nibandhas  of  smrtis.  A 
peep  into  the  smrti£astras  and  nibandhas  of  later  times 
shows  that  there  was  a  regular  attempt  to  bind  together 
all  possible  actions  of  men  of  different  castes  of 
society  by  rtgorous  rules  of  smrtis.  Such  an  attempt 
naturally  has  its  repercussions  on  the  mental  freedom 
and  spontaneity  of  the  mind  of  the  people. 

This  tendency  may  also  be  illustrated  by  a  reference 
to  the  development  of  the  philosophical  literature. 



It  is  curious,  however,  to  note  that  though  the  Indian 
systems  of  philosophy  diverged  so  diametrically  from 
one  another,  they  all  professed  to  be  loyal  inter- 
preters of  the  Upanisads.  Saiikara'sown  interpretation 
of  the  Upanisads  consists  chiefly  in  showing  the  purport 
of  the  Upanisads  as  condensed  in  the  sutras.  The 
Brahmasutra  itself  says  that  there  is  no  end  to  logical 
discussions  and  arguments  and  no  finality  can  be 
reached  by  logical  and  philosophical  debates.  It  is 
always  possible  to  employ  keener  and  keener  weapons  of 
subtle  logic  to  destroy  the  older  views.  The  scope  and 
area  of  the  application  of  logic  must  always  be  limited 
by  the  textual  testimony  of  the  Upanisads,  which  alone 
is  the  repository  of  wisdom.  It  is  curious  to  note  that 
the  same  Upanisadic  text  has  been  interpreted  by  some 
writers  as  rank  nihilism,  by  others  as  absolutism  and  by 
others  again  as  implying  dualism,  pluralism  or  theism. 
But  the  spirit  was  still  there  that  the  highest  wisdom 
and  truth  are  only  available  in  the  Upanisadic  thought. 
So  great  has  been  the  hold  of  the  Upanisads  on  the 
Indian  mind  that  even  after  centuries  of  contact  with 
the  Western  world,  its  science  and  philosophy,  Indian 
mind  has  not  been  able  to  shake  off  the  tight  hold  of 
the  Upanisads  on  its  thought.  The  late  poerTagore, 
who  happened  to  be  probably  the  greatest  poet  and 
thinker  of  our  age,  drew  most  of  his  inspiration  and 
ideas  from  the  Upanisads.  In  all  his  writings  he  largely 
expanded  the  Upanisadic  thought  assimilating  with  it 
some  of  the  important  tendencies  of  Western  biology 
and  philosophy,  but  always  referring  to*  Upanisads  or 
interpreting  them  in  that  light  for  final  corroboration. 

The  collapse  of  the  Indian  genius  in  formalistic  lines 
and  in  artificiality  in  social  customs,  behaviours  and 
actions,  in  philosophy  and  in  art,  is  naturally  reflected 
in  the  development  of  the  Sanskrit  literature  of  a  later 

Loyalty  to 
the  past,  the 
chief  cha- 
racteristic of 



The  tight- 
ening      grip 
of  the  Smrtis 
freedom     of 
and        pat- 

Its    effect 
on  literature. 

age.  In  the  earlier  age  also  the  reverence  for  the  past 
had  always  its  influence  on  the  genius  of  the  poets  of 
succeeding  ages.  It  may  be  presumed  that  the  court 
atmosphere  of  the  Hindu  kings  was  always  dominated 
by  a  regard  for  the  Hindu  Dharmatastras  as  it  was  also 
the  general  attitude  of  the  people.  This  tightening  of 
the  grip  on  the  mind  to  follow  the  past  was  so  much 
impressed  upon  the  people  that  when  after  an  age  the 
poetical  practice  was  established,  the  rhetoricians 
recorded  this  practice  and  made  it  a  pattern  for  all  kinds 
of  literature.  Just  as  the  various  writers  on  Smrti  had 
tried  to  record  the  customary  practice  and  behaviour  of 
all  the  daily  actions  of  all  class  of  people,  so  the  rhetori- 
cians also  recorded  the  practice  of  the  past  poets  and 
this  served  as  a  pattern  or  guide  for  the  poets  of 
succeeding  generations. 

When  we  read  the  works  on  rhetoric  by  Bhamaba, 
Dandin,  Vamana,  Udbhata  and  Rudrata,  and  other 
writers  of  earlier  times,  we  find  discussions  on  Kavya 
of  a  structural  nature.  They  discuss  what  constitutes 
the  essence  of  Kavya,  the  nature  of  adornments,  the 
relative  importance^of  the  style,  the  adornment  and  the 
like,  or  whether  or  not  suggestivity  or  rousing  of  senti- 
ments should  be  regarded  as  being  of  primary  impor- 
tance in  good  literature.  But  seldom  do  we  find  an 
enumeration  regarding  requirements  of  the  various 
kinds  of  poetry,  mahakavya,  khanda-kavya,  etc.,  or  a 
detailed  description  of  the  patterns  of  the  different  kinds 
-  of  characters  of  heroes  and  heroines,  or  an  enumeration 
of  the  subjects  that  have  or  have  not  to  be  described  in 
works  of  poetry.  These  patterns,  when  enumerated  by 
the  rhetoricians,  become  patterns  of  poetic  behaviour 
which  must  be  followed  by  the  poets  and  loyalty  to 
these  patterns  became  often  the  criteria  of  good  or  bad 
poetry,  just  as  the  patterns  of  conduct  recorded  in  the 



Smrti-tiastras  became  the  criteria  of  good  or  bad  conduct 
of  the  people. 

It  must  also  be  noted  that  as  the  number  of  injunc- 
tions increased  and  as  the  Smrti-$astra  demanded  a 
complete  patternisation  of  the  conduct  of  all  sections  of 
people,  freedom  of  life  and  behaviour  gradually  began 
to  disappear.  In  whatever  community  or  clan  of  people 
one  may  have  had  a  chance  of  enquiring  into,  one 
would  find  the  same  pattern  of  behaviour  as  was 
running  through  the  ages.  It  was  an  attempt  towards  a 
mummification  of  social  life  from  which  all  novelty  was 
gone.  Even  if  there  was  anywhere  any  violation  of 
the  pattern,  the  poet  could  hardly  utilise  it  without 
shocking  the  sense  of  decorum  and  religious  taste  of  the 
people.  Thus,  the  poet  had  hardly  any  field  of  new 
experience.  The  freer  life  of  older  limes  became  gradu- 
ally encased  within  the  iron  casings  of  the  laws  of 
smrti.  Thus  Kalidasa  in  describing  his  ideal  king 
Dillpa,  says  that  his  subjects  did  not  deviate  even  by  a 
line  from  the  course  that  was  followed  from  the  time  of 
Manu.  It  is  thus  easy  to  say  that  when  life  is  un- 
changeably patternised  and  there  is  no  freedom  and 
spontaneity  or  change  or  variety  in  life,  poetry  cannot 
reflect  any  new  problems  of  life  and  necessarily  it  must 
follow  artificial  patterns  which  had  been  current 
through  centuries.  This  was  further  enhanced  by  the 
fact  that  the  same  tendency  of  working  after  a  pattern 
out  of  a  reverence  for  the  past  also  intellectually  com- 
pelled the  poet  to  look  for  the  pattern  of  his  work  to 
earlier  poets  or  to  generalisations  made  from  them  as 
recorded  in  the  Alamkara  literature.  I* wish  to  affirm 
here  that  the  reason  why  the  earlier  Sanskrit  literature 
like  the  Ramayana  and  the  Mahabharata  and  the  works 
of  Sudraka,  Bhasa,  etc.,  are  more  human,  and  the  reason 
why  poets  of  a  later  period  became  gradually  more  and 

sation       of 
life  explains 
choice  of 



Kalidasa  a 

more  artificial,  is  largely  due  to  the  stagnation  of  society 
and  social  life.  Kalidasa,  however,  may  be  taken  as  an 
exception,  but  it  seems  that  in  his  time  the  ideal  of  old 
varnaframa-dharma  seemed  still  to  inspiie  the  ideal  of 
the  people.  For  this  reason  in  two  of  his  works, 
Raghuvamsa  and  Abhijftana-talmntala  he  had  taken 
a  theme  of  antiquity  and  of  history.  Thus  in  Raghu- 
vamsa, which  is  a  history  of  the  kings  of  Kagbu  race, 
he  seems  to  have  invented  many  episodes  of  the  kings 
of  the  past  about  whom  practically  no  record  is  avail- 
able in  Valmiki.  It  is  curious  to  note,  however,  that 
though  he  practically  passed  off  the  scenes  of  Rama's 
life  depicted  by  Valmiki,  yet  he  expressed  his  gratitude 
to  him  to  the  extent  of  comparing  his  work  as  being 
merely  of  the  type  of  passing  a  thread  through  pearls 
through  which  holes  have  already  been  made  by 
Valmiki.  Now,  what  may  be  the  secret  of  Kalidasa's 
feeling  of  gratefulness? 

.Now  it  seems  to  me  that  Dillpa,  Kaghu,  Aja, 
Dasaratha  and  Ramacandra  are  really  the  pivotal 
characters  of  Raghuvamsa.  If  we  take  the  lives  of 
them  all  and  roll  them  up  into  one,  we  can  very  well  have 
a  faithful  picture  of  an  ideal  king,  who  is  devoted  to  the 
rules  of  varnasrama-dharma .  Throughout  the  Ramayana, 
in  the  character  of  Kama,  beginning  from  the  episode 
of  his  marriage  to  the  killing  of  Sambuka,  we  have  the 
picture  of  such  a  king,  who  is  loyal  to  his  father, 
loyal  to  his  people,  who  marries  for  progeny,  shows 
heroism  by  conquest  and  carries  the  fruits  of  civilisation 
to  other~countries.  What  Kalidasa  meant  by  threading 
the  pearls  is  that  he  has  really  rolled  up  into  one  the 
great  ideas  of  Valmiki  and  manifested  them  in  the 
character  of  different  kings  beginning  from  Dillpa.  His 
success  with  these  two  Kavyas  was  largely  due  to  his 
natural  genius  and  also  because  the  thing  he  took  up 


was  hallowed  with  the  glory  of  the  past.     In  Sakuntala 
he  staged  his  theme   in  a  fairly   supernormal    manner,     love. 
It  was  a  prolongation   of  earth  to  heaven   and   as    such 
it  was  not  normal   or  natural.     We  find  here    also   the 
same   loyalty  on  the  part  of  the    king   to   varmframa- 
dharma  and  the  romance  with  Sakuntala   was  also    not 
clearly  of  the  ordinary  social  order.     Sakuntala  was  the 
daughter  on  the  one  hand  of    Vigvamitra    and   on    the 
other,  of  Manuka,  of  an -ascetic  Ksattriya  and  a  heavenly 
nymph.     As  such  the  love  was   not    unsocial.     In    the 
other  drama   Vikrarnorvasl  also,  he  availed  himself  of  a 
Yedic  story  and  described  the  love  of  the  king   with   a 
heavenly  nymph.     Had    Kalidasa   been  a  modern  man, 
he    should   have     probably     staged    his    drama    in   a 
different  manner.     Believer  as  he  was  in  some  amount 
of  free  love,  the  social   conditions  did  not    allow  him  to 
depict  it  otherwise  than  with  an  Apsara.     According  to 
the  older  smrtis  and   traditions  available  to  us,  we    find 
that  a    love   affair  with    a     courtesan's   daughter    was 
thoroughly   allowable   in    social  practice.     In  the  third 
love  affair  described  by   Kalidasa,  he  takes  a  Yaksa   and 
his  wife.  In  the  fourth  love  affair  in  Malavikagnimitra, 
which  was  his   maiden  work,  he  was  not  so   daring  and 
took  opportunity  of  the   fact  that  it    was    the    constant 
practice   of   the  kings   to    have  more   than   one    wife. 
In  that  case  also,  Malavikfi  was  also   a    princess.     She 
was  brought  in  the  family  by  circumstances  of   an  un- 
natural  character  and  though  the  queen    had    protected 
her  from  the  sight  of  the  king,  he  accidentally  saw  her 
portrait  and   gradually  fell    into  love    with    her.     The 
parivrajika  performed  her  part   in   the    manner    some- 
what foreshadowed  in  the  Kama£astra.     The  other  love 
affair  that   Kalidasa   describes    was   that   of    Siva    and 
Parvati  and  here  also  only  in  the   5th   canto,  that   we 
find   a  grfeat   ideal  depicted  in  the  effort   of   ParvatI    to 



tiou  of  life 
by  the 
to  the  scope 
of  free  love— 
a    natural 
for  the  deve- 
lopment   of 

attain,  through  penances,  such  proper  worth  as  may 
make  her  deserving  of  her  great  husband,  and  this  is  the 
most  important  message  of  the  book.  Otherwise,  the 
Kavya,  as  a  whole,  falls  flat  on  our  ears.  The  1st  nnd  the 
2nd  cantos  are  bores.  The  3rd  canto  attains  some  vigour 
and  the  4th  canto  is  a  mere  parody  of  the  tragic  conse- 
quences following  the  effort  of  Kama  to  fascinate  Siva. 
The  6th  and  7th  cantos  can  well  be  read  or  omitted. 
We  thus  see  that  the  divine  episode,  even  when  deli- 
neated by  a  master  genius  like  Kalidasa,  really  failed 
because  it  had  not  the  realities  of  life.  Its  value  with 
us  is  the  great  idea  that  physical  beauty  by  itself 
cannot  really  win  the  heart  of  great  souls  and  also  the 
idea  that  it  is  only  then  when  a  great  soul  is  wedded 
with  a  woman  who  by  her  moral  austerities  can  make 
herself  pure  and  attract  her  husband  through  her 
purity  and  spiritual  greatness  and  the  crucifixion  of  the 
baser  tendencies  of  life,  that  great  leaders  of  nations 
such  as  Karttikeya  can  be  produced. 

A  member  of  the  higher  caste  is  to  get  married 
the  very  day  he  ceases  to  be  a  Brahmacarl  according  to 
the  maxim  that  one  cannot  stay  even  a  day  without 
belonging  to  an  a£rama.  Such  marriages  would  naturally 
be  arranged  for  him  by  his  parents  and  relations  and 
if  after  that  he  remains  absolutely  loyal  to  his  wife, 
there  is  hardly  any  room  for  any  intrigue  or  romance. 
Sanskrit  poetry  generally  holds  within  it  a  charm 
or  attraction  which  is  almost  inimitable  by  any  other 
language,  but  owing  to  the  patternised  form  of 
life  enjoined  by  the  smrtis,  the  scope  of  life  depicted 
in  the  Kavyas  became  so  narrow  and  limited.  The 
honest  life  formulated  in  the  codes  of  duties,  fixed 
once  and  for  all,  cannot  be  the  fit  atmosphere  for  the 
free  development  of  poetic  art.  Freedom  of  love  to 
some  extent  has  to  be  tolerated  in  society  and  boys 



and  girls  have  to  remain  unmarried  up  to  an  adult 
age  in  order  that  love  episodes  may  be  possible.  Where 
the  girls  are  married  before  they  attain  their  puberty 
and  when  such  marriages  are  arranged  by  their 
relations  and  when  other  forms  of  non-marital  love 
are  not  recognised,  the  sphere  of  love  poetry  naturally 
becomes  very  limited.  One  has  to  find  some  instances 
of  illicit  love  in  royal  spheres  or  one  has  to 
deal  with  heavenly  nymphs  or  carry  on  with  the  tales 
of  the  Rdmdijana  or  the  Mahabharata. 

Taking  sex-love  by  way  of  illustration,  we  find 
that  the  Kamasutra,  written  probably  towards  the 
beginning  of  the  Christian  era,  says  (1.5.3)  that  sex 
behaviour  to  girls  of  lower  caste,  who  are  not  untouch- 
ables, to  prostitutes  and  to  widows  prepared  to  marry 
again,  is  neither  recommended  nor  prohibited.  It 
is  only  for  pleasure.1  The  institution  of  prostitution 
of  higher  ( or  lower  orders  was  allowed  in  society 
without  much  objection.  Thus  when  Carudatta  in 
Mrcchahatika  was  challenged  that  how  being  an 
honourable  man  he  had  kept  a  prostitute  though  he 
had  his  wife,  he  says,  "  yauvanamevatraparaddham  na 
caritraw."  "It  is  only  the  fault  of  my  youth  and 
not  of  my  character. "  In  the  Yajfiavalhya  also  we 
find  in  the  Vyavahara-adhyaya,  Chap.  24,  that  primary 
and  secondary  sex  behaviour  were  only  prohibited  in 
relation  to  married  women,  girls  of  higher  castes 
and  also  other  girls  against  their  wish.  There  was 
thus  a  fair  amount  of  latitude  for  free  love  and 
a  study  of  the  Kuttanlmatam  shows  that  even  prostitutes 
were  sometimes  smitten  with  love  though  it  is  their 
profession  to  attract  young  people  and  deplete  them  of 
their  riches.  The  fact  that  the  transgression  of  young 

1    avaravarndsu  aniravasit&su  vetyatu  punarbhftsu   ca   na  rfiffo  na   prati- 
siddhah  sukharthatvat, 

E— 1343B 

Yet  in  an- 
cient times 
much  wider 
freedom  was 
for  sex  rela- 



Latitude  of 
later  on 
ruled  out 
in  practice 
through  the 
influence  of 
the  Smrti 

girls  with  regard  to  the  secondary  sex  acts  such  as 
kissing,  embracing  and  the  like  by  other  young  men 
was  treated  very  lightly,  is  realised  by  reference  to 
Yajfiavalkya  and  Mitaksard.}  Again,  it  seems  from 
Yajfiavalkya  (Acdrddhydya — Vivdhaprakarana)  that 
transgression  of  married  women  unless  it  bore  fruit,  was 
treated  very  lightly.  Thus  Yajfiavalkya  (1.3.72)  says, 
vyabhicdrdd  rtau  suddhih,  i.e.,  in  the  case  of  trans- 
gression the  woman  is  purified  by  the  next  menstrua- 
tion. The  fact  also  that  there  were  so  many  kinds 
of  marriages  and  particularly  the  existence  of  a 
gdndharva  marriage  shows  that  life  was  much  freer 
in  ancient  times  than  in  later  days.  As  the  rigours 
of  the  Smrti  advanced  with  time  and  tried  to  stifle 
free  social  behaviour  and  as  social  customs  became 
more  and  more  puritanic  and  these  again  reacted  upon 
the  writers  of  the  Smrti  and  influence  them  gradually 
to  tighten  their  noose  more  and  more,  the  cifrrent  of 
social  life  became  gradually  more  and  more  stagnant 
and  unfit  for  free  literary  productions. 

This  also  explains  why  the  poets  so  often  took  the 
theme  of  their  subject  from  older  Kfwyas  and  Puranic 
legends.  In  itself  there  may  be  nothing  wrong  in 
taking  themes  from  older  legends,  provided  the  poet 
could  rejuvenate  the  legend  with  the  spirit  of  his  own 
times.  Shakespeare  also  drew  from  the  legends  of 
Plutarch  and  other  older  writers.  But  though 
the  general  scheme  of  the  story  is  the  same,  yet  the 

1    somah  Saucarp  dadavasdrp  gandharvasca  hibhdm  giram  I 
pdvakah  sarva-medhyatvam  medhyd  vai  yositohyatah  II 

—Yajfiavalkya,  I.  3.  71, 

somagandharvavahnayah  strirbhuldvd  yathdkramar(i  tdsdm  tiauca- 
madhura-vacana-sarvamedhyatvani.  dattavantah  tasmdt  striyah  tarvatra 
spar  baling  ana  di§u  medhydh  ttuddhah  smrtah  II 

~Mitak?ara,  1.3.71. 



characters  have  become  living  because  Shakespeare  lived 
through  these  characters  in  his  own  imagination  and 
his  sparkling  genius  took  the  materials  of  his  own  Mfe 
from  the  social  surroundings  about  him  which  became 
rekindled  by  his  emotion  and  imagination  and  it 
was  this  burning  colour  of  the  characters,  lived  through 
in  the  mind  of  the  poet,  that  was  displayed  in  his 
dramatic  creations.  In  the  case  of  the  Indian  poets, 
the  legend  was  drawn  from  older  Kavya  or  Puranic 
myths  but  the  poet  himself  had  but  little  life  to 
infuse  in  the  story  (because  in  the  social  surroundings 
in  which  he  lived,  mind  was  not  free  to  move)  lest  he 
might  produce  any  shock  on  the  minds  of  his  readers 
who  used  to  live  a  patternised  life.  The  force  of  this 
remark  will  be  easily  appreciated  if  we  remember 
that  Sanskrit  poets  who  deal  with  illicit  love  seldom 
make  it  the  central  theme  of  any  big  Kavya  and 
they  utilised  the  little  affairs  of  illicit  love  only  in  draw- 
ing little  pictures.  The  writers  of  Alamkara  tell  us  that 
wherever  such  illicit  love  is  described  and  howsoever 
beautifully  may  it  be  done,  it  must  be  taken  as 
rasabhasa,  i.e.,  semblance  of  literary  aesthetic  emotion 
and  not  real  rasa  or  real  aesthetic  amorous  sentiments. 

A  poet  like  Kalidasa  made  a  successful  venture  in 
Abhijfiana-sakuntala,  where  though  the  love  was  not 
illicit  yet  it  was  going  to  shock  the  mind  of  his  audience. 
In  order  to  prevent  such  a  catastrophe,  he  had  to  take 
his  heroine  as  the  daughter  of  a  Ksattriya  and  a 
heavenly  nymph  and  as  Dusyanta  was  going  to  repress 
his  emotion  because  it  bad  no  sanction  of  society — he 
was  at  once  reminded  of  the  fact  that  his  mind  was  so 
much  saturated  with  the  proper  discipline  of  the  Vedic 
life  that  he  could  trust  his  passion  as  directing  him 
to  proper  action.  This  very  passage  has  been  quoted 
by  Kumarila  in  defence  of  actions  that  may  be  done 

No  theme 
of  illicit  love 
or  love  tin* 
by   the  so- 
cial    rules 
could  be  de- 
scribed   bj 
poets  with- 
out shocking 
the  cultivat- 
ed taste. 

Kalidasa 's 
of  love  of 
romance  8. 



were     pro- 
bably    out 
of   date  in 
Kalidasa 's 

This  ex- 
plains    the 
plot  of  the 

even  without  the  sanction  of  the  sastra  in  accordance 
with  the  customary  behaviour  of  those  whose  minds 
are  saturated  with  Vedic  ideas  through  generations  of 
loyal  obedience  to  older  customs.  This  also  explains 
Manu's  injunction  of  saddcdra  as  being  one  of  the 
determinants  of  conduct. 

Kalidasa  al&o  arranged  the  gandharva  marriage 
which  was  already  becoming  out  of  date  at  the  time. 
Pie  had  however  in  his  mind  the  instinct  of  compunc- 
tion of  a  man  whose  mind  is  surcharged  with  senti- 
ments of  loyalty  to  the  Smrti-sdstras  for  staging  such 
a  romance  which  was  not  customary  at  the  time.  He 
therefore  introduces  a  curse  of  ancient  times  through  the 
fiery  wrath  of  Durvasa,  creating  a  tragic  episode  which 
he  really  could  not  bridge  except  by  the  very  unreal 
staging  of  a  drama  by  making  the  king  travel  to  heaven 
and  kill  demons  there  and  meet  Sakuntala  in  the 
heavenly  hermitage  of  Marlca.  For  such  a  king  who 
can  travel  to  heaven  and  kill  demons  there,  one  is 
prepared  to  give  any  license.  But  Kalidasa  did  not 
realise  how  unreal  was  this  part  of  the  drama  when 
taken  along  the  natural  and  normal  environment  of  the 
first  part.  Of  course  Kalidasa  never  hesitated  to  be 
unreal  in  his  dramatic  treatment.  Sakuntala's  familia- 
rity with  nature  in  the  poetic  fancy  that  nature  also 
loved  her  is  expressed  in  a  technique  which  is  wholly 
unreal,  viz.,  that  of  making  the  trees  offer  ornaments 
for  Sakuntala. 

Rabindranath  in  his  criticism  of  the  drama 
has  interpreted  it  as  embodying  the  conception  of 
Kalidasa  that  mere  carnal  love  has  a  natural  curse 
with  it,  unless  it  is  chastened  by  self-mortification 
and  tapasya.  I  would  supplement  it  with  a  furthei 
additional  idea  that  this  was  probably  Kalidasa's  vievi 
in  the  case  of  such  weddings  as  are  to  produce  grea! 



sons  like  Bharata  and  Karttikeya.     He   is  not   loyal  to 
this  view    either    in    Vikramorvasl    or   in   Malaviha- 
gnamitra.     In  Sakuntala,  however,  it  may   rightly  be 
argued  that  the    conception   bad   taken   place   through 
passionate  love  and  Sakuntala  was   in   fairly   advanced 
state    of    pregnancy    when    she    was    repulsed    from 
Dusyanta's  court.     It  may  further  be  added  that  there 
was  no  wilful  self -mortification   and   attempt  to  rouse 
purity  through  a  sense  of  value  for  a  great  love,  as  was 
the  case   of  Parvati's   tapasya   in   Kumara-sambhava, 
for  Sakuntala  lived  with  her  mother  in  heaven   and  was 
naturally   pining   through  sorrow   of   separation   from 
Dusyanta  and    wearing   garment  for   lonely   ladies   as 
prescribed    by    the    Sastras.     Strictly    speaking  there 
was   no   tapasya  for  love  ;  it  was  merely  a  suffering  for 
separation   and   as  such  we  cannot  apply  the  norm  of 
Kumarasambhava  to  the  drama  $akuntala.      From  this 
standpoint     Rabindranath's   view   cannot     be   strictly 
justified.     For  suffering  through  mere  separation   may 
chasten  the  mind  and  improve  the  sterner   qualities   of 
love,  but  it  cannot  fully  affect  the  nature  of  the  original 
worth  and  such  occasions  of  suffering  may  arise  even  in 
normal    circumstances.     We    cannot    also    hold    that 
Kalidasa  believed   that    suffering    through    separation 
chastens  love,    for   we   do  not  find  it  in  the  case  of 
Vikramorvasl  and  the  Mcghaduta.     It  seems  therefore 
more  pertinent  to  hold  that  the  veil  of  unreality  of  a 
heavenly   journey  and    meeting    the    son  there   were 
conceived  as   improvements  on  the  Mahabharata  story 
because  the  gandharva  form  of  marriage   had   become 
obsolete    and  to   make  the  issue  of   such   a   wedlock 
a  great  emperor  like   Bharata  might  not   have  pleased 
Kalidasa's  audience. 

The   unreality  of  Vilmnnorcati  is  so  patent  that  it 
needs   no  stressing.     In  the    Raghuvamh  also    there 

review  of 
how       far 



of  KilidSsa's 
plots  as 
with  the 
plot  of 

Overflow  of 
passion    in 
the  lyrics. 

tion       and 
of     Indian 

are  many  episodes  which  are  wholly  of  a  mythical 
nature.  Why  did  this  happen  even  with  a  genius  like 
Kalidasa  ?  Our  simple  answer  is  that  life  had  begun 
to  bte  patternised  even  at  the  time  of  Kalidasa.  People 
would  swallow  anything  that  was  mythical  and  that  was 
the  only  place  in  which  there  was  some  latitude  for 
depicting  emotions.  The  normal  life  had  begun  to  be 
undramatic  and  uneventful.  Anything  beyond  the 
normal  would  have  been  resented  as  not  contributing  to 
good  taste.  But  Sudraka  who  flourished  centuries 
before  Kalidasa,  did  not  feel  any  compunction  in 
making  the  love  of  a  courtesan  the  chief  theme  of 
his  drama.  There,  for  the  first  and  the  last  time, 
we  find  a  drama  which  is  surcharged  with  the 
normal  realities  of  life. 

But  the  Sanskrit  poets  being  thwarted  in  dealing 
with  free  passionate  love  as  the  chief  theme  of  a  glorious 
Kavya  gave  indulgence  to  the  repressed  sex-motives  in 
gross  descriptions  of  physical  beauty  and  purely  carnal 
side  of  love  both  in  long-drawn  Kavyas  and  also  in 
lyrics.  It  is  for  this  reason  that  the  genius  of  Sanskrit 
writers  in  their  realism  of  life  has  found  a  much 
better  expression  in  small  pictures  of  lyric  poems  than 
in  long-drawn  epics.  The  repressed  motive  probably 
also  explains  why  we  so  often  find  carnal  and  gross 
aspects  of  human  love  so  passionately  portrayed. 

I  do  not  for  a  moment  entertain  the  idea  that 
Sanskrit  poets  as  a  rule  had  a  puritanic  temperament 
or  suffered  from  any  sense  of  prudery.  They 
regarded  amorous  sentiment  to  be  the  first  and  most 
important  of  all  rasas.  Indeed,  there  have  been 
writers  on  Alarpkara  who  had  held  the  amorous 
sentiment  to  be  the  only  sentiment  to  be  portrayed. 
But  the  patternised  form  of  society  and  the  unreal 
ways  of  living  where  every  action  of  life  was  con- 


krolled  by  the  artificial  injunction  of  the  smrti  which 
always  attempted  to  shape  the  mould  of  a  progressive 
society  according  to  the  pattern  and  model  of  a  society 
which  had  long  ceased  to  exist  in  its  natural  environ- 
ments and  which  was  merely  a  dream  or  imagination, 
hampered  the  poet's  fancy  to  such  an  extent  that  it 
could  seldom  give  a  realistic  setting  to  the  creation  of 
his  muse.  We  may  add  to  it  the  fact  that  Sanskrit 
poetry  grew  almost  in  complete  isolation  from  any 
other  literature  of  other  countries.  The  great  poetry  of 
Rabindranath  could  not  have  been  created  if  he  were 
imprisoned  only  in  the  Sanskritic  tradition.  The 
society  of  the  world  and  the  poetry  of  the  world  in  all 
ages  are  now  in  our  midst.  We  can  therefore  be  almost 
as  elastic  as  we  like,  though  it  must  be  admitted  that 
we  cannot  stage  all  ouri  deas  in  the  present  social 
environment  of  this  country.  Here  again,  we  live  in  a  Gradual 

0  stratifica- 

time  when  there  are  different  strata   of    society  stand-     tion  of 
ing  side  by  side.     The  present   society  has  unfurled  its     80Ciey< 
wings   towards  future   progress  and  in  such  a  transi- 
tional stage,  the  actual  process  of  becoming   and  the 
various  stages  of  growth  are  lying  one  within  the  other. 
This  may  be  well  illustrated  if  we  take  the  case  of  men 
and  women  living  in  the   so-called  polished  and    polite 
society  of  Chowringhee  and    the  people  living   in   the 
distant  villages  of  Bengal.     We  have  now  in  our  midst  an 
immense   number  of  societies  having  entirely  different 
ideals  and  perspectives.     There  must   have  been   some 
difference   between  people  living  in  court  atmosphere 
and  people  living  in  hermitages  far  away  from  the  town 
such  that  the  latter  could  hardly  tolerate  the  former   as 
is  well-expressed  in  the  words  of  Sarngarava  and  Sarad- 
vata.     But  on  the   whole  there    was    a  much  greater 
uniformity  of  society  where  all  people  followed   the  law 
of  smrti. 



and  unreal- 
ity of   the 
life  depicted 
in      the 

of  poetry. 

In  conclusion  I  wish  to  suggest  that  the  cause  of  the 
artificiality  and  unreality  of  the  life  depicted  in  the 
Kavyas  is  due  to  two  facts  :  one,  the  gradual  depletion 
of  life  from  society  due  to  the  rigour  of  the  smrti  and 
absence  of  any  intercourse  with  any  foreign  literature, 
and  the  other,  the  conservatism  for  which  whatever 
foreign  life  was  known  to  India  could  not  in  any  way 
influence  the  character  and  perspective  of  the  Indians. 

In  this  connection  it  is  not  out  of  place  to  mention 
that  the  world  of  poetry  was  regarded  as  a  new  creation 
different  from  the  world  of  Nature.  The  purpose  of 
poetry  is  to  give  aesthetic  enjoyment  and  not  to  give  a 
replica  of  the  hard  struggles  of  life,  miseries  and 
sufferings.  But  I  have  reasons  to  think  that  this  does 
not  imply  that  poetry  should  be  divested  from  life  but 
it  merely  shows  the  spiritual  nature  of  art  which  even 
through  the  depicting  of  sorrows  and  sufferings  produces 
aesthetic  pleasure.  The  object  of  poetry  is  mainly 
to  rouse  our  sentiments  of  joy  and  everything  else 
is  to  become  its  vehicle.  This  alone  distinguishes 
the  material  world  from  the  world  of  art.  Thus 
Mammata  says  that  the  world  of  Nature  is  uniform 
as  it  is  produced  by  the  power  of  destiny  and  is 
dependent  upon  the  material  atoms,  energy  and  the 
accessory  causes  and  is  of  the  nature  of  pleasure, 
pain  and  delusion,  whereas  the  world  of  words 
is  a  direct  production  of  the  poetic  Muse  and  is 
through  and  through  interpenetrated  with  aesthetic  joy. 
It  is  also  thought  that  poetry  must  carry  with  it  the 
delineation  of  an  ideal  or  ideals  not  communicated  by 
way  of  authorisation,  injunction  or  friendly  advice,  but 
by  rousing' our  sympathy  and  interest,  our  joy  and  love 
for  them.  It  was  therefore  committed  to  the  produc- 
tion of  something  that  would  not  in  any  way  be  shock* 
ing  to  the  sense  of  the  good  as  conceived  by  the  people. 



But  the  relieving  feature  of  the  Sanskrit  Kavyas, 
inspite  of  the  conventional  themes,  subjects  and 
ways  of  description,  is  to  be  found  in  the  fact  that 
most  of  the  legends  drawn  from  the  Puranas  or  the 
older  Kavyas,  were  often  such  that  the  people 
were  familiar  with  them  and  were  used  normally  and 
habitually  to  take  interest  in  the  heroes  and  heroines 
which  were  pretty  well-known.  People  did  not  also 
miss  naturalness  and  reality  because  they  thought  that 
in  literature-  they  were  entering  into  a  new  world, 
which  was  bound  to  be  different  from  the  world  of 
Nature  they  knew.  The  majesty  and  the  grandeur 
of  the  Sanskrit  language,  the  sonorousness  of  word- 
music,  the  rise  and  fall  of  the  rhythm  rolling  in  waves, 
the  elasticity  of  meaning  and  the  conventional  atmo- 
sphere that  appear  in  it  have  always  made  it  charming 
to  those  for  whom  it  was  written.  The  unreality  and 
conventionality  appear  only  to  a  modern  mind  looking 
at  it  with  modern  perspectives.  The  wealth  of 
imagery,  the  vividness  of  description  of  natural  scenes, 
the  underlying  suggestiveness  of  higher  ideals  and  the 
introduction  of  imposing  personalities  often  lend  great 
charm  to  Sanskrit  poetry. 

The  atmosphere  of  artistic  creation  as  displayed  in 
a  Sanskrit  play,  as  distinguished  from  the  atmosphere 
of  ordinary  reality  has  well  been  described  by  Abhinava- 
gupta  in  his  commentary  on  Bharata's  Natya-Sutra. 
Thus,  Abhinavagupta  says  that  the  constitutive  words 
of  a  Kavya  produce  in  the  mind  of  the  proper  reader 
something  novel,  something  that  is  over  and  above 
the  meaning  of  the  poem.  After  the  actual  meaning  of 
words  is  comprehended  there  is  an  intuition  by  virtue  of 
which  the  spatio-temporal  relation  of  particularity  that 
is  associated  with  all  material  events  disappears  and  a 
state  of  universalisation  is  attained.  When  in  the  play  of 

F— 1843B 

features    of 

The  tran- 
object  of 
literary  art. 


tfafcunfa/aking  Dusyanta  appeared  on  a  chariot  following 
a  deer  for  piercing  it  with  his  arrows,  the  deer  was 
running  in  advance,  turning  backward  its  neck  from  time 
to  time  to  look  at  the  chariot  following  it  and  expecting 
a  stroke  of  the  arrow  at  every  moment,  and  drawing  its 
hind  legs  towards  the  front,  twisting  the  back  muscles 
and  rushing  forth  with  open  mouth  dropping  on  the  way 
the  half-chewed  grass,  we  have  a  scene  of  fear ;  bat  our 
mind  does  not  refer  it  to  the  deer  of  any  particular  time 
or  place  or  to  the  particular  king  who  was  hunting  the 
deer,  and  we  have  no  idea  of  any  fear  as  being  of  any 
particular  kind  or  belonging  to  a  particularly  localised 
animal.  The  absence  of  this  particularity  is  manifested 
in  the  fact  that  we  have  no  feeling  of  sorrow  or  anxiety 
associated  with  it.  It  is  because  this  fear  arises  in  a 
special  manner  in  which  it  is  divested  of  all  association 
,  of  particularity  that  it  does  not  get  mixed  up  with  any  of 
our  personal  psychological  feelings.  For  this  reason  the 
Display  of  aesthetic  experience  produced  by  literature,  the  senti- 
ment  that  is  realised  through  delineation  in  art,  is 
devoid  of  any  association  with  any  particular  time, 
place  or  person.  For  this  reason  the  aesthetic  represen- 
tation of  fear  or  any  other  emotion  is  entirely  different 
from  any  real  psychological  sentiment.  And  therefore, 
it  is  devoid  of  the  ordinary  associates  that  accompany 
any  real  psychological  sentiment  that  is  felt  personally 
as  belonging  to  a  real  person  in  a  particular  spatio- 
temporal  setting.  Abhinava  says  that  in  such  a  fear 
the  self  is  neither  absolutely  hidden  nor  illuminated  in 
its  individual  personal  character  (tathdvidhe  hi  bhaye 
natyantamatma  tirashrto  na  vitesatah  ullikhitah).  The 
artistic  creation  and  representation  then  appear  in  an 
atmosphere  of  light  and  darkness,  shadow  and  illumina- 
tion in  which  the  reference  to  the  real  person  and  the 
real  time  and  place  is  dropped.  As  when  we  ipfer  the 



existence  of  fire  from  smoke  we  do  not  make  any 
reference  to  any  special  fire  or  any  special  smoke, 
so  here  also  the  aesthetic  sentiment  has  no  localised 
aspect.  When  through  the  gestures,  of  the  players 
different  sentiments  are  aroused  in  the  minds  of  the 
observers,  then  the  representation  so  intuited  ^s 
divested  of  the  spatio-temporal  relations . 

In  the  external  world  things  exist  in  an  inter-related 
manner  and  the  negation  of  some  of  these  relations 
imply  also  a  negation  of  the  other  relations.  For  this 
reason  when  the  mind  becomes  unrelated  to  the  spatio- 
temporal  relations  and  the  actual  personalities  then  the 
sentiment  that  is  roused  is  divested  of  personalities  and 
the  actual  conditions  and  the  importance  is  felt  of  the 
roused  sentiment  alone. 

There   is   in  our   unconscious   mind  an  instinctive 
attraction  for  different  kinds  of  enjoyment  as  well  as  sub- 
conscious or  unconscious  impressions  of  various  kinds 
of  satisfactions.     When   aesthetic  sentiments  as  disso- 
ciated from  their  actual   environments  of   the  original 
are   roused  in  the  mind,  these  become  affiliated  to  or 
reconciled  to  the  relevant  root-impressions  or  instincts 
and  that  transforms  the  presentation  into  a  real  emotion 
though  they  are  divested  from   the  actual  surroundings 
of  the  original.    It  is  because  the  aesthetic  emotion   is 
roused  by  mutual  affiliation  of  the  representation  and  the 
in-lying  dormant  root-passions  which  are  common  to  all 
that  there  can  be  a  communion  of  aesthetic  sentiments 
among  observers,  which  is  the  ultimate  message  of  art- 
communication   (ata  eva  sarva-samajikanamekaghana* 
tayaiva  pratipatteh  sutardm  rasa-pariposaya  sarve?am 
anadi-vasana-citrikfta-cetasam  vasanaswiivadat) . 

We  thus  see  that  universalisation  is  of  two  kinds. 
On  the  one  hand,  there  is  the  universalisation  of  the 
representation  consisting  of  the  depletion  from  it  of  the 

The  sort  of 
roused  in 


li  sit  ion  in 


actual  conditions  of  the  environment  and  the  actual 
personalities.  On  the  other  hand,  there  is  another  kind 
of  universalisation  with  reference  to  its  enjoyment. 
The  enjoyment  is  more  or  less  of  the  same  type  for  all 
qualified  observers  and  readers.  All  persons  have  the 
same  type  of  dormant  passions  in  them  and  it  is  by 
being  affiliated  with  those  dormant  passions  that  the 
aesthetic  emotions  bloom  forth.  For  this  reason  in  the 
case  of  all  qualified  observers  and  readers  the  aesthetic 
emotion  enjoyed  is  more  or  less  of  the  same  type 
though  there  may  be  individual  differences  of  taste  on 
account  of  the  existence  of  specific  differences  in  the 
dormant  passions  and  the  nature  of  representations. 
In  any  case,  where  such  aesthetic  emotion  is  not 
bound  with  any  ties  and  conditions  of  the  actual  world 
it  is  free  and  spontaneous  and  it  is  not  trammelled  or 
polluted  by  any  alien  feelings.  The  aesthetic  quality 
called  camatkara  manifests  itself  firstly,  as  an  aesthetic 
consciousness  of  beauty,  and  secondly,  as  the  aesthetic 
delight,  .and  thirdly,  as  nervous  exhilaration, 
of  Abhinava  is  unable  to  define  the  actual  mental 
experience,  status  of  aesthetic  experience.  It  may  be  called 
an  intuition,  a  positive  aesthetic  state,  imagina- 
tion, memory  or  a  mere  illumination  (sa  ca 
sakstitkara-svabhavo  manasa-dhyavasayo  vd  samkalpo 

ud  smrtirvd   tathdtcena    sphurann-astu 

api  tu  pratibhdnd-para-paryydyd  sdksdtktira- 

svabhdveyam),  Our  ordinary  experiences  are  bound 
with  spatio-temporal  environments  and  conditions. 
In  literature  there  cannot  be  such  obstacles.  When 
without  any  obstruction  the  rooted  passions  bubble 
forth  as  aesthetic  emotion  we  have  the  emotion  of  lite- 
rature. At  the  time  of  knowing  ordinary  objects  we 
have  the  objects  as  actually  transcending  our  knowledge 
which  have  an  objective  reality  and  which  cannot  be 


caught  within  the  meshes  of  knowledge.  When  I  see 
a  tree  standing  before  me  I  can  only  see  certain  colours 
spatially  distributed  before  me  but  the  actual  tree  itself 
is  beyond  that  knowledge  of  colour.  Being  connected 
with  an  object  which  exists  transcending  my  colour- 
perception  and  which  cannot  be  exhausted  within  that 
colour-perception,  our  knowledge  cannot  stand  by  itself 
without  that  object.  For  this  reason  perceptual  ex- 
perience cannot  wholly  discover  for  us  the  object.  So 
in  our  inner  perception  of  pleasure  or  pain  there  is  the 
ego  within  us  which  is  unknown  in  itself  and  is  known 
only  so  far  as  it  is  related  to  the  emotions  through 
which  we  live.  For  this  reason  here  also  there  is  the 
unknown  element,  the  ego,  which  is  not  directly 
known.  Our  experiences  of  pleasure  and  pain  being 
integrally  related  to  it,  we  have  always  an  undiscovered 
element  in  the  experience  of  ordinary  pleasure  and 
pain.  Pleasure  and  pain,  therefore,  cannot  reveal  them- 
selves to  us  in  their  entire  reality  or  totality.  Thus, 
both  our  inner  experiences  of  pleasure  and  pain  and  our 
objective  experience  of  things  being  always  related  to 
something  beyond  them  cannot  reveal  themselves  in 
their  fulness.  Our  knowledge  thus  being  incomplete  in 
itself  runs  forth  and  tries  to  express  itself  through 
hundreds  of  relations.  For  this  reason  our  ordinary 
experience  is  always  relative  and  incomplete.  Here  our 
knowledge  cannot  show  itself  in  its  wholeness  and  self- 
complete  absolute  totality.  Our  knowledge  is  always 
related  to  an  external  object  the  nature  of  which 
is  unknown  to  us.  Yet  it  is  on  the  basis  of  that 
unknown  entity  that  knowledge  manifests  itself.  It 
is  therefore  naturally  incomplete.  It  can  only  express 
itself  in  and  through  a  manifold  of  relations. 
But  the  aesthetic  revelation  is  manifested  without 
involving  the  actual  object  within  its  constituent 



outlook     of 

Concept  of 

content.  It  is,  therefore,  wholly  unrelated  to  any  loca- 
lised object  or  subject.  The  aesthetic  revelation  is  thus 
quite  untrammelled  by  any  objective  tie. 

I  do  not  wish  to  enter  any  further  into  the 
recondite  analysis  of  the  aesthetic  emotion  as  given 
t>y  the  great  critic  of  literature,  Abhinavagupta. 
But  what  I  wish  to  urge  is  that  the  writers  of  Indian 
drama  had  not  on  the  one  hand  the  environment  consis- 
ting of  a  social  life  that  was  progressive  and  free 
where  concussions  of  diverse  characters  could  impress 
their  nature  on  them  and  on  the  other  hand  they 
regarded  that  the  main  importance  of  literature 
was  not  the  actuality  and  concreteness  of  real  life 
but  they  thought  that  the  purpose  of  literature  was 
the  creation  of  an  idealised  atmosphere  of  idealised 
emotions  divested  from  all  associations  of  concrete  actual 
and  objective  reality.  Thus,  Dr.  De  says  :  "  Sanskrit 
drama  came  to  possess  an  atmosphere  of  sentiment  and 
poetry  which  was  conducive  to  idealistic  creation  at  the 
expense  of  action  and  characterisation,  but  which  in 
lesser  dramatists  overshadowed  all  that  was  dramatic 
in  it/' 

According  to  the  Sanskrit  rhetoricians,  Kavya  is 
divided  into  two  classes — drsya  and  sravya,  i.e.,  what  can 
be  seen  and  what  can  be  heard.  Neither  the  Sanskrit 
rhetoricians  nor  the  poets  made  any  essential  distinc- 
tion between  Kavya  and  drama,  because  the  object  of 
them  both  is  to  create  aesthetic  emotion  by  rousing 
the  dormant  passions  through  the  aesthetic  representa- 
tion or  the  art-communication.  Our  modern  concep- 
tion that  drama  should  show  the  repercussions  of 
human  mind  through  a  conflict  of  action  and*re-action 
in  actual  life  cannot  be  applied  in^  judging  the  Indian 
dramas.  The  supreme  creator  of  the  world,  Brahman, 
produces  the  world  out  of  Him  as  the* representation  of 



magical  hallucination  which  has  order  and  uniformity 
as  well  as  unchangeable  systems  of  relations,  but 
which  is  all  the  same  a  mirage  or  mayd  and  is  relatively 
-temporary.  The  poet  also  moves  his  magic  wand 
and  drawing  upon  the  materials  of  the  world,  weaves 
a  new  creation  which  possesses  its  own  law  but  which 
is  free  from  any  spatio-temporal  bondage  of  particularity 
in  the  objective  world.  It  becomes  spread  out  in  our 
aesthetic  consciousness  where  the  aesthetic  delight 
may  show  itself  without  being  under  the  limitation 
of  the  objective  world  and  the  ordinary  concerns  and 
interests  of  the  subjective  mind.  Yet  there  are  some 
dramas  at  least  like  the  Mrcchakitika  and  the 
Mudrardksasa  which  satisfy  our  modern  standards  of 
judgment  about  drama. 

Consistent  with  the  view  that  drama  was  not 
regarded  by  the  Sanskrit  poets  as  a  composition  in 
which  the  conflict  of  action  and  re-action  and  the 
struggle  of  passions  are  to  be  delineated,  the  Sanskrit 
poets  as  a  rule  abstained  from  showing  any  violent 
action  or  shocking  scenes  or  shameful  episodes  or 
gross  demonstration  of  passion  or  anything  revolting 
in  general  on  the  stage.  They  had  a  sense  of  perfect 
decorum  and  decency  so  that  the  total  effect  intended 
by  the  drama  might  not  in  any  way  be  vitiated.  Con- 
sonant with  this  attitude  and  with  the  general  optimism 
of  Indian  thought  and  philosophy  that  the  world- 
process  ultimately  tends  to  beatitude  and  happiness 
whatsoever  pains  and  sufferings  there  may  be  in  the 
way — that  Indian  drama  as  a  rule  does  not  end 
tragically  ;  and  to  complete  the  effect  we  have  often  a 
benedictory  verse  to  start  with  or  a  verse  of  adoration,, 
and  a  general  benediction  for  all  in  the  end  so  that 
the  present  effect  of  the  drama  may  leave  a  lasting 
impression  on  the  mind,  Indian  culture  as  a  rule 

The  idea 
behind  the 
ending  of 


does  not  believe  that  the  world  is  disorderly  and  that 
accidents  and  chance-occurrences  may  frustrate  good 
life  and  good  intentions,  or  that  the  storms  and  stress 
of  material  events  are  purposeless  and  not  inter-related 
with  the  moral  life  of  man.  On  the  other  hand,  the 
dominant  philosophical  belief  is  that  the  whole 
material  world  is  integrally  connected  with  the  destiny 
of  man  and  that  its  final  purpose  is  the  fulfilment  of 
the  moral  development  of  man.  %Even  the  rigorous 
SmrtUastra  which  is  always  anxious  to  note  our 
transgressions  has  always  its  provisions  for  the  expiation 
of  our  sins.  No  sins  or  transgressions  can  be  strong 
enough  to  stick  to  a  man  ;  it  may  be  removed  either  by 
expiation  or  by  sufferings.  Freedom  and  happiness 
are  the  birth-right  of  all  men.  The  rigorous  life 
imposed  upon  an  ascetic  is  intended  to  bring  such 
beatitude  and  happiness  as  may  be  eternal. 
Consonant  with  such  a  view  the  ideal  of  art  should  be 
not  one  of  laying  emphasis  on  the  changeful  and 
accidental  occurrences  but  on  the  law  and  harmony 
of  justice  and  goodness  and  ultimate  happiness.  When 
we  read  the  dramas  of  Shakespeare  and  witness  -the 
sufferings  of  King  Lear  and  of  Desdemona  or  of  Hamlet, 
we  feel  a  different  philosophy.  We  are  led  to  think 
that  the  world  is  an  effect  of  chaotic  distribution  and 
redistribution  of  energy,  that  accidents  and  chance 
occurrences  are  the  final  determinants  of  events  and  the 
principle  of  the  moral  government  of  the  world  is  only 
a  pious  fiction.  But  Indian  culture  as  a  rule  being 
committed  to  the  principle  of  the  moral  fulfilment  of 
man's  values  as  being  ultimate  does  seldom  allow 
the  poets  and  artists  to  leave  the  destiny  of  the  world 
to  any  chance  occurrence.  Chance  occurrences  and 
accidents  do  ipdeed  occur  and.  when  the  whole  is 
not  within"  our  perspective  they  may  seem  to  rule 


the  world.  But  this  is  entirely  contrary  to  Indian 
outlook.  Granting  that  in  our  partial  perspective  this 
may  appear  to  be  true,  yet  not  being  reflective  of  the 
whole  it  is  ugly,  unreal  and  untrue  and  as  such  it  is 
not  worthy  of  being  manifested  through  art,  for  the 
final  appeal  of  art  lies  in  a  region  where  beauty, 
goodness  and  truth  unite.  The  genuine  art  is  supposed 
to  rouse  our  sattva  quality.  It  is  these  sattva  qualities 
which  in  their  tripartite  aspects  are  the  final  source 
from  which  truth,  goodness  and  beauty  spring. 
According  to  the  Hindu  theory  of  Art,  there  cannot 
be  any  impure  aesthetic  delight  and  all  aesthetic 
delight  beautifies  and  purifies  our  soul.  It  is  for  this 
reason  that  even  when  the  drama  has  a  tragic  end  the 
effect  of  the  tragic  end  is  softened  and  mellowed  by  other 
episodes.  Thus  in  the  Uttaracarita  the  pivot  of  the 
drama  is  the  desertion  of  Slta.  But  the  effect  of  this 
desertion  is  more  than  mollified  by  the  episode  of  the 
third  act  in  which  Rama's  passionate  love  for  Sita  is  so 
excellently  portrayed  and  by  the  happy  manner  in 
which  the  drama  ends. 

We  may  regard  the  Mahabharata  and  the  Rdmdyana       The , 


as  the  earliest  specimens  of  great  works  written  in  the  its  dynamic 
kdvya  style.  Though  the  Mahabharata  underwent 
probably  more  than  one  recension  and  though  there 
have  been  many  interpolations  of  stories  and  episodes 
yet  it  was  probably  substantially  in  a  well-formed 
condition  even  before  the  Christian  era.  I  have 
elsewhere  tried  to  prove  that  the  Bhagavadgita  was 
much  earlier  as  a  specimen  of  the  Vdkovdkya  literature 
which  was  integrated  in  the  Mahabharata  as  a  whole. 
It  is  of  interest  to  note  that  the  whole  tone  of  the 
Mahabharata  is  in  harmony  with  that  of  the  Gtta.  The 
Mahabharata  is  not  called  a  kdvija,  it  is  called  an  itihdsa 
and  judged  by  the  standard  of  a  kavya  it  is  unwieldy, 

£— 1343B 


massive  and  diffuse.  It  does  not  also  follow  any  of 
the  canons  prescribed  for  a  mahakavya  by  later 
rhetoricians.  But  it  is  thoroughly  dramatic  in  its 
nature,  its  personages  often  appear  with  real  characters 
and  the  conflict  of  actions  and  re-actions,  of  passions 
against  passions,  of  ideals  and  thoughts  of  diverse 
nature  come  into  constant  conflict  and  dissolve 
themselves  into  a  flow  of  beneficent  harmony.  It  is  a 
criticism  of  life,  manners  and  customs  and  of 
changing  ideals.  It  is  free,  definite  and  decisive  and 
the  entire  life  of  ancient  India  is  reflected  in  it  as  in  a 
mirror.  It  contains  no  doubt  descriptions  of  Nature, 
it  abounds  also  in  passages  of  love,  but  its  real 
emphasis  is  one  of  life  and  character  and  the  conflict  of 
different  cultures  and  ideals  and  it  shows  a  state  of 
society  which  is  trying  to  feel  its  course  through  a 
chaotic  conflict  of  different  types  of  ideas  and  customs 
that  mark  the  character  of  a  society  in  a  state  of 
transition.  Various  stereotyped  ideals  of  old  are 
discussed  here  and  dug  to  the  roots  as  it  were  for 
discovering  in  and  through  them  a  certain  fundamental 
principle  which  could  be  the  basis  of  all  morality  and 
society.  The  scheme  of  the  VarnaSrama-dharma  was 
still  there  and  people  were  required  to  do  their  duties 
in  accordance  with  their  own  varnas.  To  do  good 
to  others  is  regarded  in  the  Mahabharata  as  the  solid 
foundation  of  duty.  Even  truth  had  its  basis  in  it. 
But  still  in  the  cause  of  one's  duty  and  for  the  cause 
of  right  and  justice  the  Ksattriya  w?}s  always  bound 
to  fight  without  attaching  any  personal  interest  in  the 
fruits  of  his  actions. 

These  and  similar  other  principles  as  well  as  moral 
stories  and  episodes  are  appended  with  the  main  story 
of  the  Mahabharata  and  thus  it  is  a  great  store-house 
which  holds  within  it  at  least  implicitly  a  large  part 



of  ancient  Indian  culture  and  history  of  thoughts.  The 
style  of  the  whole  is  easy  and  flowing  and  there  is  seldom 
any  attempt  at  pedantry  or  undue  ornamentation.  The 
style  of  the  Ramayana,  however,  is  much  more 
delightful  and  it  reveals  genuine  poetry  of  the  first 
order.  It  is  for  this  reason  that  the  Ramayana  has 
always  been  looked  upon  as  unapproachable  model  not 
only  by  lesser  poets  but  also  by  poets  like  Kalidasa 
and  Bhavabhuti. 

Bhamaha  and  other  writers  think,  however,  that 
the  essential  condition  that  contributes  to  the  charm 
of  alamkara  and  kavya  as  well  is  atifayokti  or  the 
over-statement  of  the  actual  facts.  This  over-statement 
does  not  only  mean  exaggeration  but  a  new  way  of 
approach  to  things,  a  heightening  of  value  which 
also  constitutes  the  essence  of  vakrokti.  In  what- 
ever way  one  may  heighten  the  value  of  that  which 
was  a  mere  fact  of  Nature  it  would  contribute  to  poetry. 
In  every  type  of  poetry,  even  in  svabMvokti,  the  poet 
has  to  re-live  within  him  the  facts  of  Nature  or  the 
ordinary  experiences  of  life  and  it  is  by  such  an  inner 
enjoyment  of  the  situation  that  the  poet  can  contribute 
a  part  of  his  own  inner  enjoyment  and  spiritual  pers- 
pective to  the  experiences  themselves.1  Mere  state- 
ment of  facts  in  which  there  is  no  sign  that  the 
poet  lived  through  it  cannot  make  literature.  "The 
sun  has  set,  the  birds  are  going  to  their  nests " 
— are  mere  informations.  They  do  not  constitute 
kavya.*  Thus  the  so-called  alanikaras  are  often  but 

1    sai§d  sarvaiva  vakroktiranaydrtho  vibhavyate  I 

yatno'syarp  kavind  kdryah  ko'larpkaro'nayd  vind  II 

-Bhamaba,  II.  85. 
*    gato'stamarko  bhattndurydnti  vdsdya  pakqinah  I 

ityevamddi  fettp  kdvyavp  vdrttdmendip  pracakfate  II 

— Bhftmaha,  II.  87. 

The  essence 
of  K&vja  as 
the  height- 
ened ezpres. 
sion  of 


the  signs  which  show  that  the  poet  has  re-lived 
through  his  ordinary  experiences  with  his  aesthetic 
functions  and  has  thus  created  art.  An  over-emphasis 
of  them,  however,  or  a  wilful  effort  at  pedantry  which 
does  not  contribute  to  beauty  is  indeed  a  fault.  But 
in  a  poet  like  Bana  we  find  the  oriental  grandeur 
of  decoration  which,,  though  majestic  and  pompous,  is 
nevertheless  charming. 

The  choice         if   we  take   a  review  of  the  subject  matter  of  the 

of  subjects.  ' 

various  kavyas  and  dramas,  we  find  that  the  plots 
are  mostly  derived  from  the  Mahabharata,  the  Rama- 
yana  and  sometimes  from  some  of  the  Puranas,  some- 
times from  the  stories  of  great  kings,  or  religious  and 
martial  heroes,  or  sometimes  from  floating  stories  or  from 
the  great  story-book  of  Gunadhya  and  its  adciptations, 
and  sometimes  from  the  traditional  episodes  about  kings 
and  sometimes  also  from  stories  invented  by  the  poet 
himself.  But  as  we  move  forward  through  the 
centuries,  when  the  freedom  of  thought  and  views  and 
ideas  became  gradually  more  and  more  curbed,  the  choice 
of  subjects  on  the  parts  of  the  poets  became  almost  wholly 
limited  tp  the  stories  of  the  Ramayana  and  the  Maha- 
bharata. This  would  be  evident  to  anyone  who  will  read 
the  history  of  Sanskrit  literature  as  presented  here 
together  with  editorial  comments  at  the  end  of  the  book. 
Works  of  literature  are  not  mere  plays  of  imagina- 
tion or  of  solitary  caprices  of  the  brain,  but  they  may 
be  said  to  be  transcripts  of  contemporary  manners  or  as 
representing  types  of  certain  kinds  of  mind.  It  is  some- 
times held  that  from  the  works  of  literature  one  might 
form  a  picture  of  the  modes  of  human  feelings  and 
thoughts  through  the  progressive  march  of  history. 

iNTftODUCTION  liil 

Maramata  in  his  Kavyaprakasa  says  that  krivya  produces 
fame,  one  can  know  from  it  the  manners  and  customs  of 
the  age  and  that  it  produces  immediate  artistic 
satisfaction  of  a  transcendent  order  both  for  the  reader 
and  for  the  writer  and  it  is  also  instructive  by  the 
presentation  of  great  ideals  in  a  sweet  and  captivating 
manner  like  that  of  one's  lady  love. 

We  can  understand  the  history  of  literature  of 
any  country  only  by  regarding  it  as  being  merely  a 
product,  a  flower  as  it  were,  of  the  entire  history 
rising  upwards  towards  the  sun  like  a  gigantic  tree 
with  outspreading  branches.  'It  may  be  difficult  to 
follow  the  tree  from  branch  to  branch  and  from  leaf 
to  leaf,  but  the  tree  has  left  its  mark,  the  type  to 
which  it  belongs,  in  its  flowers.  One  can  classify 
the  histories  of  the  various  people  by  comparing 
the  essential  characteristics  of  the  literature  as  much 
as  one  can  classify  the  trees  through  the  flowers./  It  is 
indeed  true  that  an  individual  poet,  though  he  may 
belong  to  his  age,  may  have  his  own  peculiarity  of 
temperament  and  interest  by  which  he  may  somewhat 
transcend  the  age.  But  such  transcendence  cannol 
altogether  change  the  character  of  his  mind  whict 
is  a  product  of  his  society. 

Genuine  history  does  not  consist  of  the  wars  and  History 
battles  that  are  fought,  the  accession  and  deposition 
of  kings  ;  so  if  we  judge  of  literature,  it  is  not  mere 
mythology  or  language  or  dogmas  or  creeds  which  may 
be  discovered  from  certain  documents  that  constitute 
literature,  but  it  is  the  men  that  have  created  it.  The 
general  characteristics  of  an  age  can  also  become  vivid 
if  we  can  portray  before  our  mind  the  individual  men. 
Everything  exists  only  through  the  individuals  and  we 
must  become  acquainted  with  the  typical  individual.  We 
may  discover  the  sources  of  dogmas,  classify  the  poems, 


realise  the  political  constitution  of  the  country  or 
analyse  the  language  in  accordance  with  the  linguistic 
principles  and  so  far  clear  the  ground.  But  genuine 
history  is  brought  to  light  only  when  the  historian 
discovers  and  portrays  across  the  lapse  of  centuries  the 
living  men  as  to  how  they  worked,  how  they  felt,  how 
they  are  hemmed  in  by  their  customs,  so  that  we  may 
feel  that  we  hear_  their  voice,  seeTBelr  gestures,  postures 
and  features,  their  dress  and  garment,  just  as  we  can  do 
of  friends  whom  we  have  visited  in  the  morning  or  seen 
in  the  street. 

If  we  want  to  study  a  modern  French  poet 
like  Alfred  de  Musset,  or  Victor  Hugo,  we  may 
imagine  him,  as  Taine  says,  "  in  his  black  coat  and 
gloves,  welcomed  by  the  ladies  and  making  every 
evening  his  fifty  bows  and  his  score  of  bon-mots 
in  society,  reading  the  papers  in  the  morning, 
lodging  as  a  rule  on  the  second  floor ;  not  over- 
gay  because  he  has  nerves  and  specially  because 
in  this  dense  democracy  where  we  choke  one  another, 
the  discredit  of  the  dignities  of  office  has  exaggerated 
his  pretensions  while  increasing  his  importance  and 
because  the  refinement  of  his  feelings  in  general 
disposes  him  somewhat  to  believe  himself  a  deity." 
Then  again,  if  we  take  a  poet  like  .Racine  of  the  17th 
century,  we  can  imagine  him  to  be  elegant,  courtier- 
like,  a  fine  speaker,  with  a  majestic  wig  and  ribbon- 
shoes,  both  Koyalist  and  a  Christian,  clever  at  enter- 
taining a  prince,  very  respectful  to  the  great,  always 
knowing  his  place,  assiduous  and  reserved,  at  Marly 
as  at  Versailles,  among  the  regular  pleasures  of  a 
polished  society,  brimming  with  salutations,  graces, 
airs  and  fopperies  of  the  Lords,  who  rose  early  in 
the  morning  to  obtain  the  promise  of  being  appointed 
to  some  office,  in  case  of  the  death  of  the  present  holder, 


and  among  charming  ladies  who  can  count  their 
genealogies  on  the  fingers  in  order  to  obtain  the  right 
of  sitting  at  a  particular  place  in  the  court.  So  also 
when  we  read  a  Greek  tragedy  we  must  be  able  to 
imagine  of  well-formed  beautiful  figures  living  half- 
naked  in  the  gymnasia  or  in  the  public  squares  under 
the  most  enchanting  panorama  of  views  ;  nimble  and 
strong,  conversing,  discussing,  voting,  yet  lazy  and 
temperate,  waited  on  by  slaves  so  as  to  give  them 
leisure  to  cultivate  their  understanding  and  exercise 
their  limbs  and  with  no  desire  beyond  attending  to 
what  is  beautiful.  We  can  get  a  picture  of  such 
a  Greek  life  from  thirty  chosen  passages  of  Plato 
and  Aristophanes  much  better  than  we  can  get  from 
a  dozen  of  well-written  histories. 

If  we  wish  to  picture  before  our  mind  the  life  of  a  city 
beau  in  jmcient  India  we  cnn  imagine  him  as  having  a 
house  beside  a  lake  with  a  garden  beside  it,  having  many 
rooms  for  his  works,  for  meeting  people,  for  sleep  and 
for  bath  — a  house  divided  into  an  external  and  internal 
part,  the  internal  part  for  the  ladies.  His  bed  is 
covered  with  a  white  sheet  made  fragrant  with  incense, 
pillowed  on  both  sides,  the  head  and  the  feet,  and 
very  soft  in  the  middle,  with  a  seat  for  an  idol  or  image 
of  a  deity  at  the  head-side  of  the  bed,  a  small  table 
with  four  legs  of  the  same  height  as  the  bed  on  which 
there  are  flower-garlacds,  sandal-paste,  a  little  wax 
in  a  vesseI7~~a  little  fragrant  fan,  spices;  there  is 
a  spitoon  on  the  grouncTTThe  '  Vina  '  is  hanging  on 
a  peg  in  the  wall;  there  is  a  number  of  pictures 
hanging  in  proper  positions  in  the  wall,  articles  for 
painting  on  a  table,  some  books  of  poems  and  some  gar- 
Ian  JsT  The  seats  inTfie  room  are  covered  with  beauti- 
ful covers  ;  outside  in  the  verandah  there  are  probably 
birds  in  a  cage  and  arrangements  of  diverse  sports  in 


the  yard,  a  jwing  bagging  jp  a  shady  ^  place  ;  and  an 
elevated  quadrangle  for  sitting  at  pleasure. 

The  beau  rises  in  the  morning,  performs  his 
morning  ablutions,  offers  his  morning  prayers  and  other 
i^IigqusJdufi'^T^besmears  himself  faintly  with  sanjial- 
paste  and  wears  clothes  fragrant  with  the  smoke 
of  aguru,  wears  a  garland  on  his  hair^  slightly  paints 
hisTipsfwith  red,  chewTbetel  leaves,  and  looking  at  his 
face  at  a  mirror,  ~^T~gb  out  to  perform  his  daily 
duties.  He  takes  his  bath  everyday,  cleanses.his  Jyjdy 
with  perfumes,  gets  himself  massaged,  sometimes 

—•  !,„,  ;  ______  i  i  i  --  -i--*-    <  -"•  "*"""*  ">""•*""  *..  '•—     "' 

takes  vapour-baths,  shaves  generally  every  three  da^s, 
takes  his  meals  in  the  middle  of  the  day,  in  the 
afternoon  and  also  in  the  night;  after  meals  he  would 
either  play  or  go  to  sleep  and  in  the  evenings  gojput 
tojbe  clubs  for  sport.  The  early  part  of  the  niight 
maybgipent  in  music  jmd  the  night  in  love-making  of 
j  receiving  ladies  and  attending  to  them. 

He  arranges^  fg&tivities  on  the  occasions  of  worship  of 
particular  godjs;  in_  the  clubs  he  talks  about  literature 
in  small  groups,  he  sits  together  and  drinks,  goes  out 
to  gardens  and  indulges  in  sports.  On  festive  occasions 
in  the  temple  of  Sarasvat!  dramatic  performances  are 
held^jand  actors  and  dancers  from  different  temples 
come  and  meet  together  for  the  performance.  Guests 
are  received  and  well  attended  to.  The  clubs  were 
generally  located  in  the  houses  of  courtesan^  or  in 
special  houses  or  in  the  houses  of  some  members  of  the 
club:  These  clubs  were  often  encouraged  by  the  kings 
and  in  such  places  men  more  or  less  of  the  same  age, 
intelligence,  character  and  riches,  met  and  spent  their 
time  in  mutual  conversation  or  conversation  with 
courtesans.  There  they  discussed  literature,  or  prac- 
tised dramatic  art,  dancing,  singing,  etc.  They  would 
often  drink  wines  at  each  other's  houses, 



Raja^ekhara  describes  the  daily  Jifej>f  a  poet.  He 
rises  in  the  morning,  performs  his  morning  duties 
including  religious  practices.  Then  sitting  at  leisure 
in  his  study-room,  he  studies  books  relevant  to  poetry 
for  about  three  hours  and  for  about  another  three  hours 
he  engages  himself  in  writing  poetry.  Towards  midday, 
he  takes  his  bath  and  meals,  after  which  he  again 
engages  himself  in  literary  conversations  and  literary 
work.  In  the  afternoon,  in  association  with  chosen 
friends  he  criticises  the  work  done  in  the  morning. 
When  a  person  writes  something  under  the  inspiration 
of  emotion  he  cannot  always  be  critical.  It  is  there- 
fore desirable  that  he  should  criticise  his  own  work  and 
try  to  better  the  composition  in  association  with  chosen 
friends.  He  then  re- writes  the  work.  JJ§  ^ sleeps 
for  six  hours  and  in  the  early  hours  of  the  morning 
he  reviews  the  work  of  the  previous  day.  There  are, 
however,  poets  who  have  no  restrictions  of  time  and 
are  always  engaged  in  writing  poetry.  Such  poets 
have  no  limitations  of  time  as  those  engaged  in  services 
of  some  kind  or  other.  Well-placed  women  such  as 
princesses,  daughters  of  high  officials  and  courtesans  as 
well  as  the  wives  of  gay  people  became  often  highly 
learned  and  also  poets. 

It  is  the  business  of  the  king  to  establish  an 
assembly  of  poets.  When  the  king  himself  is  a  poet, 
he  would  often  make  assembly  halls  for  the  poets 
where  all  learned  people  assemble  as  well  as  musicians, 
actors,  dancets  and  gingers.  £lbe  kings  Vasudeva, 
Satavahana,  Sudraka,  probably  all  had  established  such 
academies/)  It  is  for  this  reason  that  in  the  capitals 
of  great  kings  learning  bad  so  often  flourished.  Thus, 
Kalidasa,  Mentha,  Amara,  Rupa,  Sura,  Bharavi, 
Bhattara  Haricandra  and  Candragupta  flourished  in 
Ujjayini.  So  also  Upavarsa,  Varsa,  Panini,  Pingala, 

Life  of 
poet       aftc 



Vyacji,  Vararuci,   Patanjali   and    others  flourished   in 

We  know  from  Arthatastra  that  all  kinds  of 
teaching  of  fine  arts  and  literature  were  encouraged 
by  the  Mauryyas  and  that  teachers  of  music,  dancing, 
acting,  etc.,  were  maintained  out  of  the  provincial 
revenue.)  The  kings  held  in  their  courts  from  time  to 
time  great  exhibitions  of  poets  and  scholars,  where  they 
wrangled  with  one  another  and  vied  for  victory  in 

literary    contests.     There   were  often   Poet  Laureates 

•»-«  .-»« •  —»'*-  --•  ~<  "   -  — 

attached  to  the  king's   court.     Srlharsa  says  that  in  the 

W  9*Ha*n*""*~***"' **~-    -"      '-•* 

court  of  Jayacandra  a  seat  was  reserved  for  him  and  he 
was  offered  two  betel-leaves  as  a  mark  of  honour, 
of  ^et  us  look  at  the  autobiography  of  Bana  who  lived 
in  the  court  of  Srlharsa  in  the  J7th  century.  .  He  tells 
us  that  his  mother  died  when  he  was  quite  young  and 
his  father  also  died  when  he  was  almost  of  the  age  of 
fourteen.  He  was  studying  at  the  time  and  he  had 
sufficient  wealth  to  maintain  himself  at  home.  But 
with  the  beginning  of  youth  he  was  impatient  and  got 
into  naughty  habits.  At  this  time  he  got  a  number 
of  associates  and  friends.  (A  little  scrutiny  into  the 
%§k~oJL  that  Bana  had  may  give  us  an  idea 
of  the  sort  of  people  that  lived  in  the  city  and  bow  in 
the  city  life  all  classes  of  people  mixed  together^  Thus 
he  says  that  he  had  for  his  associates  Candasena  and 
Matrsena,  who  were  born  out  of  a  Brahmin  father  and 
a  Sudra  mother,  the  poet  Isana,  B^ra  and  NarayanaT 
who  were  learned  ^schdar^  Bharata^Jjhe  composer  of 
Sanskrit  songs,  Vgyu-vikara,  who  was  born  in  the 

1    iha  kalidasa-inenthav-atra'maiarfipa-sura'bhdravayah/ 
haiicandra-candraguptau  parik§itav'ilia  vMlayam// 
Myate  ca  pa^aliputre  sastrakara-parlkfd, — 

atro-pavar$a-var<av-iha  pdnini-pihgalav-iha  vyadify/ 
varamci-patanjali  iha  parikfitah  khyatim  upajagmuh// 

r- Kavyarolmarpss,  Ch,  Xt 


family  of  those  who  made  songs  in  Prakrt,  Anarigavana 
and  Sucivana,  two  ladies,  Katy ay anika  and  Cakra- 
vakika,  Ma^uraka  the  forester,  Candaka  the  seller  of 
beteMeaves,  Mandaraka  the  _j£ader,  "  Candaka  the 
gbysician,  Sudrsji  the  artist,  Siddhasena  the  go'dsmith 
and  jeweller,  Govinda  the  writer,  Vfravarmaja ,  the 
painjgr,  Kumaradatta  the  varnisher,  Jlmuta  the  drum- 
mer, Somila  and  Grahaditya  Jhe  singers.  Kuramnka 

»*•   •»       <~  «. , „    ..  ,..,."  *"  _»,•!.  MQ -***  ° 

the  independent  artisan  girl,  the  pipers,  Madhukara 
and  Paravata,  Darduraka  the  teacher  of  dancing, 
Keralika  the  massage-girl,  the  dice-player  Akhan<Jal#ka, 
the  dancing-master  Tandavika,  fhe  actor  Sikhandaka, 
the  nun J3umati,  the  monk_yiradeva,  the  dancing-girl 
Haramika,  the' reciter  Jayasena,  the  saiva  Vakraghoija, 
the  enchanter  Karalakesa,  and  the  magician  .Cakoraksa, 
Being  overcome  by  such  an  association  he  went  out  of 
his  home  for  seeing  different  countries  in  an  irrespon- 
sible manner  and  after  a  time  returned  to  his  country. 
He  then  describes  the  atmosphere  of  Vedic  studies  and 
sacrifices  that  prevailed  among  his  relations.  Their 
houses  rang  always  with  the  sound  of  Vedic  recitations. 
People  had  their  forehead  besmeared  with  ashes,  their 
long  hairs  were  brown  like  fire.  The  children^^who 
came  to  see  the  sacrificial  ceremonies,  sat  on  different 
s^gs.  There  were  little  hollows  which  were  softened 
with  the  flowing  soma-juice.  The^ards  were  green 
with  grass.  The  signs  "of  dark  deer  were  lying  about 
on  wKiclT  lay  the  sacrificial  cakes  and  sacrificial  rice. 
"The  nwara  paddy  were  scattered  about  on  the  sands. 
Hundreds  of  holy^d[scipies  were  bringing  the  green 
ku6a,  thesacrificmljvood,  qowdung;  the  yard  was  mark- 
ed everywhere  with  the  hoofs  of  cows  that  supplied 
milk  for  the  sacrificial  £W^|i-  Many  of  the  sacri- 
ficers  were  busy  besmearing  their  kamandalus  with 
mud.  Heaps  of  branches  of  fig  tree  were  lying  about 


for  sacrificial  pegs.     The  whole  ground  was  rendered 
brown  by   the  sacrificial  offerings.    The  smoke  of  the 
clarified  butter  had  darkened  the  foliage  of  trees. 
Gradual  We  have   again  in   Harsacarita  the  description  of 

cit/We  from  splendour  and  magnificence  of  the  capital  ^and^  the 
the  tillages?  court  of  a  Hindu  king  and  the  description  as  to 
how  he  encouraged  scholars  and  poets,  artists  and 
scientists  as  also  the  pleasures  of  a  city-life,  \  As  we 
read  Kalidasa  describing  court  scenes  many  centuries 
before,  we  find  that  the  ^court-Jife  was  not  so  far 
removed  by  its  splendour  and  majesty  from  the  life 
of  ordinary  people,  the  citizens,  the  members  of  the 
hermitage,  and  the  like.j  Dillpa  ju  iisujourney  to  the 
hermitage  of  Va&stha  goes  alone  with  his  wife  looking 
at  the  village  scenes  and  talking  with  the  rustic*  people 
on  the  way.  His  personal  greatness,  strength  and 
vigour  of  character  made  such  an  appearance  of  his 
great  personality  that  though  alone  he  appeared  as  if  he 
was  in  accompaniment  of  a  host  of  retinue  and  army. 
'There  is  a  naive  simplicity  in  the  portrayal  of  Dillpa 
and  Du?yanta,  of  Vikrama  and  Pusyamitra  which 
we  cannot  find  in  Bana's  portrayal.  As  we  move  up 
to  Bhasa,  we  find  that  life  in  general,  whether^  in 
court^^^outaide1  was  more  akin  to  the  description 
that  we  find  in  the  Arthasastra,  ^yith  the  difference 
that  performances  of  Vedic  sacrifices  have  a  greater 
prominence  in  the  lives  of  kings  than  what  we  find 
in  the  portrayal  of  royal  lives  in  Kalidasa  or 
Bana.  }  Already  in  Kalidasa  the  hermits  from  the  forest 
cannot  regard  the  city-life  and  the  court-life  with 
complacence.  Sarngarava  and  Saradvata  think  of 
the  court  of  Dusyanta  as  a  hall  surrounded  with  fire. 
Neither  Vikrama  nor  Dusyanta  performs  any  sacrifice 
and  when  Pusyamitra  does  it,  he  does  so  with  a  sense 
of  majesty  and  greatness.  Entirely  different  is  the 


portrayal  of  the  kings  of  the  past  age  with  whom 
performances  of  sacrifices  and  gifts  are  almost  a  normal 
routine.  Even  the  great  hero,  Raghu,  leaves  up  his  all 
after  his  conquering  career  in  his  sacrifice. 
£We  thus  see  that  as  we  move  along  the  centuries, 
the  court-life  becomes  gradually  separated  from 
the  life  of  the  people  as  a  wholep  With  this 
separation  new  types  of  characters  and  professionals 
of  diverse  description  began  to  grow  up  and  the  court 
atmosphere  and  the  city  atmosphere  gradually  became 
alienated  from  the  life  of  the  people  as  a  whole.  Yet 
the  older  Vedic  life  and  its  ideals,  as  they  became  more 
and  more  hazy  and  dreamy,  began  to  assume  almost  a 
supernatural  hold  consisting  of  fear  and  hope  for  the 
people  at  large.  The  influence  of  the  legal  literature 
with  their  injunctions  and  restrictions,  became  more 
and  more  stringent  and  more  and  more  stiffened  and 
inelastic  as  time  went  on.  (li  seems  that  the  people  as 
a  whole  tolerated  the  court-life,  but  hardly  assimilated 
it  in  their  blood.  \  An  artificial  division  was  thus 
created  and  more  and  more  emphasised  as  we  take  a 
long  perspective  through  the  centuries  from  a  position 
of  an  early  eminence.  With  the  inrush  and  settlement 
of  Islamic  supremacy  and  the  practical  destruction  of 
Hindu  court-life  the  breakage  became  almost  complete. 
In  a  climate  like  that  of  India,  people  indeed  appreciat- 
ed the  passionate  side  of  life  and  even  from  the  time 
of  the  Mauryyas  or  even  earlier  than  that,  the  courte- 
sans had  almost  an  unrestricted  importance  and  the 
urban  taste  often  descended  into  vulgarity.  We  have 
the  figure  in  terra  cotta  of  a  dancing  girl  discovered  in 
the  Mauryya  level  in  Patna,  where  the  girl  is  wearing 
shining  apparels  all  over  her  body  but  her  prominent 
breasts  are  shown  uncovered.  /1\Iost  of  the  woman- 
figures  in  ancient  art  show  the  bosoms  of  young  women 


in  an  uncovered  manner.)  This  tallies   with  the  des- 
cription of  women's  breasts  in  so  many  of  our  Sanskrit 
erotic  verses  which  are  shocking  to  our   modern  taste  .^ 
More  than  this,  we  find  Sanskrit  poets  vying  with  one 
another  in  the  description  of  the  most  delicate  acts  of 
sex-life  illustrating,  as  it  were,  the  descriptions   in  the 
Kama-sutra.     But  be  it  as  it  may,  the  normal  judg- 
ment of  tEe  audience  had  most  often  a  sound  inclination 
and  in  order  to  cater  to  this  taste,   we   often   find   that 
a  drama  or  a  kavya  most  often  had   a  moral  lesson  to 
impart,  though  it   ran  always  as  an  undercurrent.     It 
is  for  this  reason  that  stories  from  the  Ramayana,  the 
Mahabharata  and  the  Puranas  played  such  an   impor- 
extenfliveij     tant-part  for   the   formation   of   plots   of  Kavyas   and 
dramas.     In  decadent  times,  most  of   the   dramas  and 
kavyas  drew  their  inspiration  from  religious  mythology. 
In  and   through   such   religious   mythology   the  poets 
could  gratify  the  expression  of   their  erotic   sentiments 
and  could  also  cater  to  kindred   sentiments   among   the 
audience  without  the  fear  of   shocking  their  taste  or 
appearing   irreligious.      In   Sanskrit    and   particularly 
in  Bengali  poetry  that  flourished  in  the  16th  and   17th 
centuries   we  find    that    erotic    sentiments    displayed 
through  the  divine  personages   of  Krsna   and   Radha 
became  the  religious   creed  of    a  particular  sect    of 
Vaisnavism.     Such  expressions  of  eroticism  were  un- 
related to  marital  restrictions  and  it  was  supposed  that 
such  dalliance  between  Krsna  and  Radha  took  place  in 
transcendental  bodies  to  which  criticisms  from  the  stand- 
point of  ordinary   mundane   life  were  hot  applicable. 
They  were  the  demonstrations  of  love  in  life  divine  and 
a  devotee  may  enjoy  them   from   an  upper   sphere  of 
spirituality  with   which  the  carnal  being  is  out  of  con- 
tact.   This  idea  of  transforming  eroticism  into  a  religion 
had  not  its  beginniag  only  in  the  15th  or  16th  century 


literature  of  Bengal  but  it  can  be  traced  in  the  Bhaga- 
vata  and  other  literature  as  early  as  the  5th  or  6th 
century  A.D. 

It  may  be  pointed  out  in  this  connection  that  sex  8a*fkvreitm 
liberty  in  fields  other  than  marital  were  allowed  in 
society  and  accepted  by  the  legal  literature,  though  not 
approved  by  the  higher  conscience  of  the  people.  The 
existence  and  persistence  of  niyoga  for  a  long  time  in 
Hindu  society  shows  that  even  in  marital  spheres  sex 
liberty  was  allowed  in  a  restricted  form.  The  existence 
of  various  kinds  of  marriages  and  the  legal  rights  allow- 
ed to  children  produced  in  a  non-marital  manner  also 
illustrate  the  contention.  In  pre-Christian  times,  the 
Gandharva  form  of  marriage  was  regarded  as  quite 
respectable  and  a  girl  of  a  certain  age  was  given  the 
right  to  choose  her  own  husband,  if  the  parents  had  not 
married  her  within  a  prescribed  age.  We  find  in 
Kalidasa  that  Dusyanta  says  that  tradition  goes  that 
daughters  of  kings  had  married  according  to  the 
Gandharva  custom  and  that  such  marriages  were 
approved  by  parents.  This  shows  that  in  Kalidasa's 
time  at  least  the  Gandharva  marriage  was  going  out  of 
fashion.  But  in  the  story  of  Vasavadatta  in  Bhasa  and 
also  in  Avimaraka,  it  appears  that  no  exception  was  taken 
to  the  Gandharva  marriage.  But  for  the  restriction  by 
the  Privy  Council  the  law  of  Gandharva  marriage  still 
holds  according  to  Hindu  Law.  But  as  early  as  the 
story  of  Vilhana  we  find  that  in  spite  of  the  provision 
of  Hindu  Law  the  Gandharva  form  of  marriage  was  not 
recognised  by  the  society. 

But  side  by  side  with  this  liberty  of  marriage  of 
earlier  times,  the  rules  of  Smrfci  gradually  made  marriage 
of  women  more  and  more  binding  before  the  attainment 
of  puberty.  Thus,  excepting  in  the  case  of  nymphs  or 
daughters  of  nymphs,  or  girls  of  kings,,  from  older 


stories,  like  that  of  Gunadhya,  themes  of  free  love 
between  adult  men  and  women  are  indeed  very  rare  in 
Sanskrit  dramas.  The  Malatlmadhava  is  a  pratyrana 
or  that  type  of  drama  where  the  plot  is  invented  by  the 
poet.  But  though  the  story  as  a  whole  is  new,  elements 
of  it  are  mostly  found  in  the  Katha-sarit-sagara.  In 
Sudraka's  Mrcchakatika  we  have  a  portrayal  of  love 
between  the  courtesan  Vasantasena  and  Carudatta*. 

But  yet  we  have  a  host  of  Sanskrit  verses  which 
deal  with  the  love  of  abhisarikas  or  those  women  who 
themselves  come  to  the  houses  of  their  beloved  at  night. 
In  the  Kama-sutra  also  we  find  that  the  houses  of  the 
nagaras  were  visited  by  the  abhisarikas.  But  there  is 
hardly  any  instance,  apart  from  the  kathd  literature, 
wherein  any  respectable  girl  has  been  depicted  as 
playing  the  part  of  ao  abhisarika.  In  the  anthologies 
and  £atakas  we  have  almost  a  superabundance  of  love 
poems  which  are  apparently  of  a  non -marital  character. 
But  these  are  mostly  single  61okas  depicting  a  love 
scene,  portraying  a  passion,  or  a  love  situation,  without 
any  reference  to  the  sort  of  persons  between  whom  this 
love  was  carried  on. 

Mammata  makes  a  distinction  between  rasa  and 
rasabhasa  (semblance  of  rasa). l  When  a  woman  has 
many  lovers  or  when  illicit  love  is  expressed,  or  when 
love  is  not  responded  to,  or  if  the  expression  of  love  be 
with  regard  to  intimate  relations  of  a  higher  status,  such 
expression  of  love  is  shocking  to  the  audience  and  is 
called  semblance  of  amorous  sentiment  (rasabhasa). 
Thus,  some  of  the  best  erotic  poems  have  been  counted 

1    tadabhasd  anaucitya-pravartitah Kdvya-prakdta  IV.  49. 

anaucityarp  ca  sahfdaya-vyavaharato  jfleyarpi  yatra  te$am  anucitamiti  dhih. 
tacca  &fbgare  bahu-viQayatvena  upanayakadi-gatatvena  nayaka-nayikanyatara- 
matravi$ayatvena  guru-jana-gatatvena  tiryagadi-gatatvadina  ca  nanaiva. 
Uddyota  commentary  on  the  above  as  quoted  in  Jhalkikar's  edition  of  Kavya> 



by  many  critics  as  examples  of  rasabhasa.  Sarada- 
tanaya  in  his  Bhava-prakatana  of  the  12th  century 
modified  this  definition  to  a  considerable  extent  and 
regarded  that  only  when  a  description  of  love  is  such 
that  it  creates  laughter  that  it  is  called  rasabhasa. 

If  we  take  the  general  sweep  of  the  growth  of 
Indian  civilisation  and  culture  we  find  that  Hindu 
life  in  India  opens  with  the  pretty  vast  collection 
of  poems  called  the.  Vedas,  which  are  surcharged  with 
the  impressions  of  Nature  in  its  beautiful,  tender, 
terrific  and  tempestuous  aspects  produced  upon  the 
extremely  sensitive  minds  of  the  Indian  people.  The 
Aryans  when  colonising  in  India  came  amongst  people 
who  were  either  extremely  barbaric  and  uncivilized, 
or  who,  as  in  the  Indus  Valley  and  in  the  South, 
were  people  who  had  a  civilisation  entirely  different 
from  theirs.  The  Aryans  clung  to  their  social  order 
of  the  four  varnas,  to  their  Vedas  and  to  their 
original  customs  and  rights  in  order  to  keep  their 
integrity  amongst  an  alien  and  barbaric  people.  Their 
original  religion  consisted  of  hymns  to  the  Nature  gods 
as  preserved  in  the  Vedas  along  with  certain  simple 
rites.  It  is  difficult  to  reconstruct  the  nature  of  these 
rites  as  they  have  become  merged  in  the  complexity 
of  rituals  associated  with  the  necessity  of  the  preserva- 
tion of  fire.  The  Vedic  prose  writings  evolved  by 
way  of  elaborating  and  systematising  these  sacrificial 
details.  But  as  the  Vedic  families  grew  in  number  and 
expanded  in  different  directions  in  the  East  and  the 
South  a  separate  secular  life  evolved  and  differentiated 
from  the  original  Vedic  structure  and  it  gave  rise  to 
various  professions  as  cities  began  to  grow.  The 
original  motive  of  the  early  Vedic  hymns  was  religious 
worship  &nd  as  such  Sanskrit  literature  has  seldom  been 
able  to  free  itself  from  the  religio-raoral  element.  But 


Growth  of 
Indian   civi- 
from  Vedic 


with  the  expansion  of  life  two  other  motives  differentiated 
themselves  in  an  absolutely  clear  and  distinct  form. 
The  Vedic  religion  had  its  magical  element  with  refer- 
ence to  supra-mundane  happiness  and  all  through  the 
development  of  Indian  religion  and  philosophy  it  had 
never  been  able  to  get  rid  of  this  magical  element.  The 
philosophy  of  the  Vedanta,  the  Buddhism,  the  Yoga  and 
the  Samkhya  have  always  to  depend  upon  the  concept  of 
magic  and  illusion  as  the  fundamental  pivot  of  the 
superstructure  of  these  philosophies. 
Natural  But  with  regard  to  the  mundane  affairs,  the  Indians 

India.  have    always    been    absolutely   definite,   concrete   and 

realistic  in  their  conceptions.  There  is  no  mysticism 
whatsoever  in  Sanskrit  poetry.  They  are  all  based  upon 
concrete  and  tangible  emotions.  The  inexhaustible 
wealth  of  natural  phenomena  in  a  country  of  tropical 
climate  girdled  by  great  mountain  ranges,  deep  and 
extensive  oceans  interspersed  with  long  and  wide  rivers  ; 
where  the  seasons  appear  in  so  marked  a  manner, 
with  glorious  colours  of  the  sky,  the  glowing  sunshine, 
silvery  moonbeams,  the  pouring  sonorous  rains,  the 
sweet  and  green  verdure,  the  blossoming  fragrant 
flowers  of  all  hues  and  beauty ;  where  birds  with  brilli- 
ant feathers  and  sweet  chirpings  and  cooings  and 
animals  of  all  description,  the  beautiful  antelopes,  the 
fleet  steed,  the  majestic  elephants  and  the  royal  lions 
are  abundant  in  the  forests ;  all  these  captivated  the 
sensitive  minds  of  the  Indians  as  much  as  the  gazelie- 
eyed  damsels,  with  their  ruddy  cheeks  and  lips,  the 
flowing  raven  hair,  and  healthy  physique  of  emphatic 
outlines  of  figure. 
Thecbarac-  /Q0  the  other  hand,  the  Indian  mind  is  subtle,  deep, 

Indian  tem-    logical  to  the  extreme,  imaginative  and  analytic.\  The 
men.       jn(jjan  m\n^  has  as    much    appeal    to    passion  and 
emotion,  desire  for  enjoying  the  world  at  its  best  as  for 

iNTfeODtJCTION  Ixvii 

making  provision  for  future  post-mortem  welfare  which 
is  as  real  to  it  as  the  world  here  on  earth.  At  the 
same  time,  the  Indian  mind  takes  infinite  delight  in 
carrying  on  logical  thoughts  to  their  consistent  conclu- 
sions in  analysing,  classifying,  naming  and  arranging 
the  data  in  any  sphere  of  experience.  Again,  the 
climatic  conditions  in  which  the  Aryans  in  India 
came  to  live  were  such  that  their  very  existence  in  life 
often  depended  upon  favourable  showers  which  alone 
could  render  their  corn-fields  fertile.  They  had  thus  to 
depend  upon  fate  and  Providence  as  the  fundamental 
datum  for  their  well-being.  Yet  they  were  fully  con- 
scious and  alive  to  the  efficiency  of  human  will  and  action 
Human  beings  are  not  mere  playthings  in  the  hands  o 
Nature.  (The  Indians  in  the  history  of  their  civilisation 
understood  the  value  of  human  life  and  human  existence 
as  the  end  and  purpose  of  the  whole  of  natural 
existence.  \  They  therefore  somehow  believed  that  fate 
or  destiny,  howsoever  unknown  and  unknowable  may 
be  its  nature,  can  in  reality  be  influenced  and  modified 
by  our  actions.  Herein  they  fell  back  on  faith  which 
was  an  indispensable  postulate  for  proper  action.  This 
world  is  for  our  enjoyment  and  so  we  have  the 
world  beyond  the  present,  after  death,  which  must  be 
for  our  happy  existence  and  it  is  somehow  given  to 
us  that  whatever  may  be  the  obstacles  in  the  way  of 
destiny  or  fate  or  in  the  way  of  the  vagaries  of  natural 
phenomena,  it  lies  in  our  power,  which  is  itself  a  faith, 
that  we  can  modify  its  nature  and  method  of  working 
in  our  favour.  Early  in  the  history  of  human  civilisation 
they  discovered  the  existence  of  a  supreme  power  which 
not  only  controlled  the  phenomena  of  the  external  world 
but  also  all  the  biological  phenomena  of  life,  the  func- 
tions of  our  cognitive  and  conative  senses.  They  began 
to  search  for  the  secret  of  this  power  in  the  external 


The  genius 
and  tem- 
perament of 
the  race 
shows  itself 
in  the  litera- 

world  and  being  disappointed  therein,  turned  inwardly 
to  their  own  minds  and  discovered  that  the  secret  of 
.this  great  power  that  ruled  the  life,  the  universe  and 
the  man,  was  nothing  but  the  self.  Thus,  side  by 
side  with  the  development  of  the  magical  literature 
which  elaborated  the  sacrificial  doctrine  that  sought 
the  source  of  all  power  outside  man  in  his  ritual 
dealings  with  the  external  world,  we  have  the  secret 
instructions  of  the  Upanisads  which  reveal  to  us 
the  ultimate  philosophy  and  secret  of  human  life  and 
its  place  in  Nature. 

Literature  is  but  a  mode  of  the  self-expression  of  the* 
inner  man.  The  external  man  is  visible,  the  internal 
man  is  invisible.  We  can  look  at  the  articles  of  civilisa- 
tion, the  house,  the  furniture,  the  dress,  the  ordinary 
marks  of  refinement  or  rusticity,  energy  or  constraint, 
customs  and  manners,  intelligence,  inventiveness  and 
coolness,  but  all  these  are  but  different  roads,  the  visible 
avenues  that  lead  us  to  the  invisible  internal  man  as 
these  are  but  his  ways  of  expression.  The  internal  man 
is  but  an  organic  unity  of  emotive  and  conative  impulses 
which  unroll  themselves  in  accordance  with  the  influ- 
ences, physical  and  social,  in  which  the  person  has  to 
evolve.  The  gifts  of  a  particular  race  are  its  own. 
The  peculiarities  of  the  Greek  imagination  that  gave  us 
the  twin  sister  of  the  Antigone  of  Sophocles  and  the 
goddesses  of  Phidias  are  the  peculiar  expressions  of  the 
Greek  mind.  As  there  are  differences  in  anatomical 
structure  between  the  various  species  of  animal  and  plant 
lives,  so  there  are  essential  anatomical  peculiarities  in 
the  structure  of  the  different  racial  minds.  If  we  take 
the  life  of  a  man  like  Cromwell  as  depicted  by  Carlyle 
,  we  may  discover  a  secret  organic  unity  within  him  and 
an  inner  soul  which  would  explain  all  his  springs  of 
action.  We  find  how  a  soul  is  working  with  the 


troubling  reverses  of  a  melancholic  imagination  but  with 
a  tendency  and  temperament  and  instinct  which  is 
English  to  its  very  core,  unintelligible  to  those  who 
have  not  studied  the  peculiar  English,  climate  and 
still  more  the  peculiarities  of  the  genius  of  the  English 
race.  In  and  through  his  letters  and  mutilated  speeches 
one  may  have  the  panorama  of  pictures  that  led 
him  from  his  farm  and  team  to  the  general's  tent 
and  the  Protector's  throne ;  all  through  the  changes 
and  vicfssitudes  of  life,  in  his  freaks  of  conscience 
and  political  conclusions,  the  entire  machinery  of 
bis/  mind  becomes  directly  visible  ;  and  all  through 
his  individuality  we  mark  the  peculiarities  of  the 
insulated  Englishman.  In  understanding  the  peculiar 
transformation  of  the  English  life  in  the  middle  ages 
we  can  perceive  how  from  under  the  meaningless 
theological  discussions  and  monotonous  sermons,  how 
from  underneath  the  beating  of  living  hearts,  the  con- 
vulsions and  apathies  of  monastic  life,  the  unpredicted 
genius  of  English  life  re-asserts  itself  in  wavy  turmoils 
and  how  the  inroads  of  surrounding  worldliness  and  its 
struggles  with  the  monastic  ideal,  the  true  appreciation 
of  civic  life  in  its  exactness,  balance  and  strength, 
reveals  itself,  and  how  the  iron  determination  of  the 
race  shows  itself  through  its  constant  struggle  with 
the  neighbouring  states.  How  this  English  genius  is 
well-contrasted  with  that  of  France,  cultured  and  re- 
fined with  her  drawing-room  manners  and  untiring 
analysis  of  character  and  actions,  her  keen  irony  and 
ready  wit,  her  finesse  so  practised  in.  the  discrimination 
of  shades  of  thought,  her  turbulent  and  uncontrollable 
emotions,  can  be  judged  by  any  one  who  would  care  to 
study  the  representative  literature  of  the  two  countries. 

The  idea  of  a  supernatural  world,  of    God  and   His 
relation  to  man  is  indeed    common  to  most    civilised 


human  races,  but  it  is  the  peculiar  mode  and  appre* 
hension  distinctly  unique  in  itself  that  has  in  one  case 
resulted  in  the  architecture  of  the  churches  being  thrown 
down  the  old  status,  destruction  of  pictures  and 
ornaments,  curtailment  of  ceremonies,  shutting  up  of 
worshippers  in  high  pews  and  the  like  and  in  the  other 
case  in  the  erection  of  temple-structures,  installation  of 
images,  abolition  of  windows,  darkening  of  the  inner 
chamber,  and  at  the  same  time  in  the  provision  for 
individual  worship  for  every  person  according  to  his 
needs  and  also  in  the  provision  for  conceiving  God 
as  formless,  graspable  only  in  thought  and  devo- 
tion and  purity  of  character.  While  truth  is  regarded 
as  one  in  the  European  countries,  the  Indians  have 
always  regarded  the  reality  of  grades  and  aspects  of 
truth.  It  is  for  this  reason  that  evolution  in  Europe 
has  always  taken  place  by  destroying  or  modifying  the 
old,  ushering  in  the  new  with  a  total  disregard  of  the 
old  except  in  so  far  as  its  elements  lay  hidden  in 
the  structure  of  the  new.  Indian  genius,  however,  felt 
no  contradiction  between  the  old  and  the  new.  The 
development  of  Indian  thought  therefore  is  the  ushering 
in  of  the  new  without  the  annulment  of  the  old.  While 
the  development  of  the  Upanisadic  monism  may  ,on 
one  hand  be  regarded  as  the  annulment  of  the  pluralism 
of  Vedic  sacrifices  and  rituals  yet  the  latter  persisted 
side  by  side  with  the  former  through  centuries.  The 
Indian  always  found  such  relations  between  the  old  and 
the  new  that  it  regarded  every  aspect  of  the  evolution 
as  true  with  reference  to  human  history  and  the  history 
of  truth  in  evolution.  The  European  who  does  not 
understand  this  peculiarity  of  the  Indian  genius,  must 
necessarily  fail  to  have  a  proper  perspective  of  the  evolu- 
tion and  development  of  Indian  thought.  The  Indians 
do  not  feel  any  contradiction  in  taking  to  Vedic  forms 



of  rituals  at  the  time  of  marriage  and  have  the  images 
of  Siva,  Visnu  and  Sakti  installed  in  his  family  temples 
and  at  the  same  time  regard  the  Brahman  as  the  ulti- 
mate truth  as  formless,  causeless  and  yet  the  cause  of  all. 
Many  European  scholars  have  discussed  the  ques- 
tion of  the  secular  or  religious  origin  of  dancing  and 
dramatic  plays.  They  have  failed  to  notice  that  the 
origin  is  both  religious  and  secular  and  in  the  same 
performance  even  now  both  religious  and  secular  value 
is  attached.  The  Vaisnava  lyrics  are  tested  from  a 
literary  point  of  view  as  excellent  poems  of  love  and  at 
the  same  time  they  are  enjoyed  with  deep  religious 
fervour  developing  into  religious  frenzy  and  unconscious 
states  of  emotional  depth. 

When  the  Aryan  settlers  entered  India  in  successive 
hordes  and  found  themselves  amongst  the  aborigines  of 
India,  the  most  important  concern  with  them  was  the 
maintenance  of  the  integrity  of  their  race  and  culture. 
They  were,  however,  somewhat  humane  in  their  tem- 
perament and  could  not  think  of  destroying  absolutely 
those  of  the  aborigines  who  submitted  to  them  against 
the  hostile  ones,  the  Raksasas  and  the  Asuras.  They 
carried  on  an  interminable  war  against  the  hostile  ones 
until  at  least  most  of  them  were  destroyed.  It  is  not 
impossible  that  the  civilization  of  the  people  of  the  Indus 
Valley  which  is  almost  universally  admitted  as  being 
pre-Vedic  was  so  destroyed.  At  the  same  time  it  would 
be  unwise  to  think  that  even  these  hostile  people  had 
not  infiltrated  some  of  their  customs  and  religious 
beliefs  and  other  elements  of  their  civilisation.  The 
Siva  cult  and  the  Yoga  cult  may  be  pointed  out  as 
specific  instances  of  such  infiltration.  A  close  analysis 
and  comparison  of  the  elements  of  earliest  Vedic  civili- 
sation may  in  course  of  time  reveal  many  more  instances 
of  mutual  contact  and  indebtedness, 

and  secular 
ideas  wedde 

with  alien 


The  idea  But  along  with  the  successful  war  and  occupation  of 

of  dnarma  as  to  . 

social  integ-  the  country  and  gradual  extension  of  the  civilisation 
towards  the  East  along  the  course  of  the  Ganges  and  to- 
wards the  South  beyond  the  Vindhyas,  unobstructed  at 
the  time  by  any  foreign  invasions,  the  principal  problem 
before  these  Aryans  was  to  solve  the  question  of  social 
synthesis  consistent  with  absolute  social  integrity. 
They  felt  that  without  such  a  social  integrity  their 
unity  and  fraternity  would  be  lost  and  their  influence 
and  existence  would  be  destroyed  under  the  strange 
influence  of  an  alien  land.  They  therefore  fell  back  for 
the  preservation  of  their  old  customs  and  manners  to 
the  religious  practices  as  preserved  in  the  oral  traditions 
of  the  Vedas  and  the  subsequent  Vedic  literature  as  it 
developed  gradually  in  course  of  time.  Their  chief 
motive  urge  was  social  preservation  and  social  continu- 
ity and  maintenance  of  its  integrity  and  solidarity, 
which  the  term  '  dharma '  etymologically  means. 
Such  a  problem  need  not  arise  in  any  appreciable  manner 
in  the  case  of  those  Aryans  who  had  migrated  to  the 
Western  countries  for  where  -the  Aryans  were  in  large 
multitude  they  destroyed  the  original  aborigines  and 
the  inter-marriage  between  the  various  hordes  of  Aryans 
did  not  or  could  not  lead  to  any  disruption  of  their 
social  integrity  as  Aryans.  In  Iran  the  Aryans  preserved 
their  integrity  and  thus  their  civilization  till  the  advent 
of  the  Moslems  and  when  they  could  not  withstand  the 
impact  of  Islamic  invasion  they  largely  lost  their 
integrity  and  their  civilisation  merged  with  the 
civilisation  of  the  Semitic  people.  But  even  there 
the  best  literature  and  philosophy  of  the  Islamic 
world  had  been  produced  by  the  Persian  converts. 
No  other  nation  has  been  known  to  produce  litera- 
ture and  philosophy  of  a  standard  higher  than  that  of 
the  Aryans, 



As  the  preservation  of  the  Vedic  culture  was  thus 
regarded  upon  as  the  only  means  of  social  preservation 
and  the  maintenance  of  social  integrity,  and  was  thus 
looked  upon  as  dharma,  the  idea  of  dharma  as  confor- 
mity to  old  customs  and  manners  of  Vedic  times 
became  the  main  spring  not  only  of  the  evolution  of  the 
legal  literature,  the  Purdnas  and  the  Dharma-dastras, 
but  it  became  ingrained  in  the  society  as  the  fundamen- 
tal and  indispensable  structure  and  scheme  of  all  its 
cultural  products.  Nothing  could  be  allowed  to  prevail 
that  would  come  into  conflict  with  the  dharma. 

This  dharma  again  was  based  upon  a  literature  and 
pre-eminently  upon  a  poetic  literature,  viz.,  the  Vedas. 
Literature  thus  in  one  sense  as  a  traditional  store- 
house of  past  customs  and  manners,  was  the  source  of 
dharma  and  it  was  dharma  also  that  was  in  some 
sense  at  least  the  dominant  influence  or  guide  in  the 
production  and  development  of  later  literature.  Practices 
of  a  secular  nature  that  prevailed  in  old  Vedic  times 
became  associated  on  the  one  hand  with  dharma  and  on 
the  other  they  continued  to  have  a  development  on 
secular  lines  such  as  would  not  be  inconsistent  with  the 
practice  of  dharma. 

I  shall  give  one  instance.  In  the  Rgveda  I.  92.4 
there  is  a  passage  which  describes  the  dancing  of  a 
courtesan  (nrtu) — adhi  pe$amsi  vapate  nrtur-iva-pornute 
vaksa  ticchreva  varjaham.  Sayana  in  commenting  on  the 
verse  explains  it  as  follows  : — nrtur-iva  nartayantlyosid- 
iva  pe&arrisi,  rupa-namaitat  sarvair-darfaniyani  rupani 
usa  adhivapate  svatmani  adhikam  dhdrayati  vaksah 
svaklyam  urahpradefam  pornute  anacchaditam  karoti — 
i.e.,  the  Usas  is  like  a  dancing  girl  who  carefully  clothes 
herself  in  her  best  raiments  but  keeps  her  bosom 
uncovered  in  order  to  attract  the  eyes  of  all.  Now, 
a  terracotta  figure  of  a  dancing  girl  with  beautiful  and 

J— 1843B 

The  con- 
cept of 
depends  on 
the  Vedas. 

of  even  the 
through  the 



the  guiding 
principle  of 
Hindu  cul- 

utlook  and 
be  doctrine 
f  trivarga. 

sparkling  raiments  over  all  her  body  but  with  bare  bosoms 
has  been  discovered  in  the  Maurya  level  of  excavation 
near  the  site  of  the  present  Patna  College.  (See 
A.  Banerjee-Sastri's  article,  I.  H.  Q.,  1933,  p.  155.) 
Now,  we  find  that  exactly  the  same  kind  of  dancing  girl 
that  used  to  dance  before  the  audience  in  Vedic  times 
appears  in  the  same  kind  of  dress  keeping  her  bosoms 
bare  and  her  body  clothed  in  raiments  before  the 
audience  in  Maurya  times.  The  continuity  of  the 
practice  of  the  same  kind  of  dancing  with  same  kind  of 
clothes  for  more  than  thousand  years,  cannot  but  appear 
to  us  surprising.  Exactly  the  same  sort  of  dancing  of 
the  Devadasis  may  even  now  be  noticed  in  many  of  the 
temples  of  the  South. 

We  thus  notice  a  strange  continuity  of  secular 
practices  and  a  strange  association  of  these  with  reli- 
gious practices  which  has  led  many  scholars  to 
conceive  the  development  of  Indian  drama  from  religious 
sources.  The  point,  however,  that  we  wish  to  lay  stress 
upon  here,  is  that  the  motive  ot  dharma  being  essen- 
tially of  the  nature  of  social  preservation  and  maintenance 
of  social  solidarity,  had  never  been  lost  sight  of  in  the 
development  of  Indian  literature.  The  importance  of 
this  would  be  realised  when  we  consider  that  even 
to-day  the  indispensable  definition  of  being  a  Hindu 
consists  in  his  participation  in  and  loyalty  to  the  Vedic 

If  we  closely  review  the  tendencies  of  the  Vedic 
culture',  we  find  that  in  addition  to  the  adherence  to 
certain  Vedic  customs  and  manners  and  the  doctriues 
of  sacrifices,  the  Vedic  people  were  anxious  like  other 
Aryan  people  to  provide  for  wealth  and  enjoyment  in 
this  life  &nd  for  making  provision  for  happiness  here- 
after. As  a  matter  of  fact,  most  of  their  prayers  are 
for  mundane  advantages,  prosperity  and  happiness. 


Even  a  cursory  reading  of  the  Atharva  Veda  will  show 
that  these  Vedic  people  would  offer  prayers  even  for  the 
meanest  advantage  and  pleasure  of  vulgar  types.     The 
idea  of  dharma  was  later  on  supplemented  with  high 
moral   ideals,   self-control,   control  of  passions  and  the 
like?  culminating  in  the  desire  for   liberation,   but   the 
idea  of  sense-enjoyment  and  the  accumulation  of  articles 
of  prosperity,  i.e.,  kama  and  artha,  remained  all  through 
the  centuries  more  or  less  unaffected.     The    Hindu 
culture  thus  has  been   motivated  principally  by  four 
impulses,  the  impulse  of  dharma,   artha,    kama   and 
moksa.    Of  these  the  moksa  literature  consists  primarily 
of  the  Upani§ads,  the  works  of  the  different  philosophi- 
cal systems,   the  religio-philosopbical  literature  of  the 
Tantras  and  the  like.    The  impulse  of  dharma  is  to  be 
found  in  the  sacrificial  literature  and  its  accessories,  the 
Vedahgas.  The  motive  of  artha  forms  the  content  of  the 
Vartta  literature   which  is  now  mostly  extinct.     The 
motive  of  kama  in  its  special  application  to  sexology 
has  led  to  the  development  of  a  fairly   large  literature 
on  the  Kama-tastra.    The  dharma,   artha  and  kama 
together  are  called    the    trivarga.     The  literature   of 
Political   Science,  the  Kavya  and  the  like  are  supposed 
to  have  been    motivated    by  the  three  fundamental 
emotive  tendencies,  dharma,  artha  and  kama.    Of  these 
the  huge  stotra  literature  is  motivated  by  the  impulse  of 
dharma  while  the  other  forms  of  literature,  viz.,  Epic 
Kavyas,   Lyric  Kavyas,  the  Dramas,  have  been  moti- 
vated by  three  principles,  dharma,  artha  and  kama  and 
so  also  is  the  katha  literature  and  the  niti  literature. 

We  have  said  above  that  the  genius  of  the  Indian 
mind  is  at  once  extremely  analytic  and  imaginative. 
For  this  reason  we  have  a  fairly  large  literature  of 
Natya-tastra  and  Alamkara-£astra,  which  not  only  ana- 
lyses in  Jdetail  the  various  elements  that  constitute  the 


complex  act  of  dancing,  acting  and  music,  but  which 
has  also  tried  to  review  in  detail  the  structure  and 
technique  of  the  Drama  as  well  as  the  principles  under- 
lying the  display  of  sentiments  through  the  histrionic 
art  as  well  as  poetry  in  general. 

Bharata   in  describing  natya  has  characterised   it 
as  productive  of  dharma  and  fame,  as  conducive  to  long 
life  and  increasing  the  understanding  and  as  instructive 
to  people  in  general.     It  is  supposed   to  be  the  conjoint 
result  of  all  knowledge,    wisdom,   art  and  craft.     Its 
purpose  is  to  produce  a  sort  of  imitation  of  human  events 
and  character.    It  produces  satisfaction  and  rest  for  the 
suffering,  the  fatigued,   the  wretched  and  it  consoles 
those  that  are  troubled  by  grief. l    Dramatic  art  is  thus 
regarded  by  Bharata,   the   author  of  the  earliest  work 
on  the  science  of  dramaturgy  now  available,  as  the  art 
of  reproduction   by   imitation.     Consistently   with   it, 
Dhananjaya  has  defined  natya  as  the  reproduction  of  a 
situation  and  as  the  different  characters  are  given  visible 
form  (rupa)  in  the  person  of  the  actors,  a  drama  is  called 
a  rupaha.     Among  the  commentators  of  Bharata  there 
are  learned   discussions   regarding  the  sense  in  which  a 
dramatic  performance  may  be  regarded  as  a  reproduction 
in  the  sense  of  imitation  and  Abhinavagupta,  the  most 
penetrating  and  distinguished   critic  of   art,   strongly 
objects  to  the  idea  of  imitation.     He  holds  that  through 
music,  dancing,  acting  and  the  dress,  dyeing,   and   the 
stage  environment,  the  dramatic  performance  is  entirely 

1     nana-bhavopasampannaip  nana-vasthanta<ratmakam  \ 
hka-vrttdnukaranaw  na}yametanmaya  kftam  II 
dutykhartanam  $ramartanarp  $okartanarp  tapasvinam  \ 
viAranti-jananam  kale  natyametad  bhavifyati  II 
dharmyatp  yatasyamayuqyarp  hitarp  buddhi-vivatdhanam  \ 
loko-padeta-jananarp  natyametad  bhavijyati  II 
no  taj*jfianarp  na  tac-chilpaip  na  sa  vidya  na  sa  kala  \ 
n&sau  yogo  na  tat  karma  n&tye'smin  yanna  drSyate  II 

—  Bharata's  Natyatastra. 


a  new  art  for  the  production  of  aesthetic  joy  and   it   is 
not  imitation   in   any  ordinary   sense    of    the    term. 
Abhinavagupta  says   that   imitation   of  other's   move- 
ments would  produce   the   ludicrous   and  imitation   of 
other's    feelings    and    emotions    is    impossible.     The 
influence  of  music,  the  sight  of  the  other  actors  and  the 
stage  environment  produce  in  the  actor  an  influence  by 
which  he  forgets  his   spatio-temporal,   actual  or  local 
personality  and    thus    transfigures    himself    into    his 
dramatic  personality  and  a  new  world   consistent   with 
the  spirit  of  the  dramatic  situation  appears  in   him  and 
his  performance  produces   in   a   similar   manner  a  new 
influence,  and  a  new  type  of  communication  emerges  out 
of  him  and  enlivens  the  mind  of  the  audience.     But  we     dramatic 
shall   not  enter   here  into    any  details  of  the  nature  of     arfc< 
art-communication.     We  are  only  interested  to   point 
out  that  dramatic  performance   becomes  an   art   when 
recitation  in   the   form   of    dialogues    associated    with 
suitable  gestures,  postures,  movement,    dancing,    dress 
and  music,  succeeds  in  giving  expressions  to  sentiments 
and  passions  so  as  to  rouse  similar  sentiments   in   the 
minds  of  the  audience.     Thus  it   becomes  a   dramatic 
art.     Thus  Natyadarpana   says  :    natakamiti  natayati 
vicitram  ranjanat  prave£ena  sabhyanam  hrdayam  narta- 
yati  iti  natakam.1    In  this  sense  a  dramatic   perform- 
ance   should    be   distinguished    from  mere   recitation 
which  is  not  so  effective.     We  have  elsewhere  in   the 
editorial  notes  tried  to  show  the  manner  in    which  the 
dramatic  performance  evolved  through  a  combination  of 
recitation,  dancing  and  acting  and  the  fact  that  there 
were  at  least  in  the  2nd  century  B.C.  and  in    the   time 
of  the  Mauryyas,  schools  and  teachers  for   the   training 
of  the  dramatic  art. 

1  yadyapi  kathadayo'pi  srotfhfdayatn  natayanti   tathapiahk  opayadinavp 
vaicitryahetunamabhavdt  na  tathd  ratlfakatvam  iti  na  te  nfyakam  I 



value  of 

The  epi- 
sode of  King 

We  have  said  above  that  the  kacyas  and  the   natya 
contributed  to  dharma,  artha  and  kama  and    Bharata's 
specification  of  the  object  of  dramatic  performance   also 
confirms  the  view.     Not  only  is  natya  called  a  Veda  for 
universal  instruction  and  the  author  of  the  Natya£astra 
called  a  muni  (saint)  but  dramatic   performances    were 
generally  held  in  times  of  religious  festivities  and  when 
they  consisted  in  the  reproduction  of  the  great  characters 
of  the  Rdmayana  and  the  Mahabharata,   they    had   not 
only  an  educative  value  in  rousing   noble   passions   but 
they  were  regarded  also  as  productive  of  merit,  both  for 
those  who  performed  them  and  for  those  who  listened  to 
and  witnessed  them.     Even  to-day   the  Kamacarita    is 
played  in  a  peculiar  manner  in  the  United  Provinces  in 
India,  where  the  players  as    well   as   the   audience   are 
surcharged  with  a  religious   emotion.     Again,    when    a 
kathaka  or  a  reciter  would   recite,    say,   the   episode  of 
the  marriage  of  Sita,  religiously-minded    persons  would 
have  the  impression  in  their  minds  that  the  marriage  of 
Sita  was  actually  taking  place   before   them  and  those 
who  can  afford  to  do  it,    would    willingly   offer   golden 
ornaments  and  jewels   as   articles   of   dowry   for    Sita, 
which  of  course,  are  received  by  the   Brahmin   reciting 
as  his  fees.     Even    those    who   cannot   afford   to   pay 
much  would  offer  whatever  they  can,  fruits  and  flowers, 
coins,  grains,  etc.,  on  such  an   occasion.     Here,  again, 
we  must  note  the  imaginative  character  of  the  Indians, 
who  can  very   easily  lose  their  personality  when   they 
listen  to  the   imaginary   description   of  deeds   that  are 
dear  to  their  hearts.    I  do  not  know  if  any  other  people 
in  the  world  have  such  imaginary  susceptibilities. 

In  the  Prapannamrta  (Chap.  86)  by  Anantacarya 
there  is  a  curious  episode  of  King  Kula^ekhara  who  was 
a  Tamil  king  living  in  the  12th  century,  who  was  very 
fond  of  listening  to  the  recitation  of  the  Ramayana. 



When  he  listened  to  a  verse  to  'the  effect  that  Kama  was 
alone  to  meet  the  fourteen  thousand  demons,  he  became 
so  much  excited  with  the  affair  that  he  immediately 
armed  himself  from  head  to  foot  and  was  on  the  point  of 
marching  with  all  his  arrny  to  meet  Havana  as  an  ally 
of  Rama.1  Such  imaginative  predilection  of  the  Indian 
people  could  easily  be  utilised  by  the  poets  by  dealing 
with  characters  of  the  Rdmdyana  and  the  Mahabharata 
and  the  Puranas  as  a  means  of  rousing  the  religious 
and  moral  interest  of  the  audience  and  thereby  contri- 
buting to  dharma.  We  know  that  the  Rdmdyana, 
which  is  definitely  called  a  Mvya  and  the  Mahabharata  9 
which  is  called  an  itihdsa,  are  regarded  as  invested 
with  the  holiness  of  the  Vedas.  Thus,  there  was  an 
easy  bridge  between  what  may  be  called  dharma  and 
what  may  be  called  plain  literature.  We  can  also 
assume  that  the  Indian  people  in  general  were  as  a  rule 
religi'ously-minded  and  cared  for  that  type  of  literature 
which  initiated  them  to  religious  principles  and 
strengthened  their  faith  •in  a  pleasurable  manner 
through  amusements.  This  may  be  a  very  important 
reason  why  most  of  the  plots  of  Indian  dramas  and 
kdvyas  were  taken  from  the  Rdmdyana,  the  Maha- 
bharata and  the  Puranas.  There  are  indeed  some  plots 
derived  either  directly  or  indirectly  from  Gunadhya  or 
the  floating  materials  used  by  him  or  from  similar  other 
sources.  In  other  cases,  the  lives  of  great  kings  or 
saints  also  form  the  subject-matter  of  the  kdvyas  and 
the  dramas  and  in  a  few  cases  historical  events  have 

tarn  imam  Slokam,  bhaktiman  kulatekharah   | 
caturdata-sahasrdni  raksasam  bhlma-kannanam  \ 
ekatca  rdmo  dharmdtmd  katharfl'yuddharp,  bhaviqyati  \ 
asahisnustato'dharmayuddharp  6ighram>  skhalad-gatih  \ 
dhanurvanaip  samdddya  khajgarii  carma   ca  viryyavan 
caturangabalopeto  janasthdnam-  kftatvarah  I 
pratasthe  tatk$ane  tasya  saMyarthavp,  haripriyah  II 

ment of  the 
people    often 
explains  the 
choice  of 



or  religious 
inspired  the 
poets  in 
framing  the 

also  been  made  the  subject-matter  of  literature.  Side 
by  side  with  these  historical  kdvyas  we  have  many 
prafasti-kavyas  in  inscriptions  which  are  of  excellent 
poetic  merit,  such  as,  the  pratastis  by  Kavigvara 
Rama  (700-800  A.D.)  and  the  LalitaSuradeva  of  the 
9th  century  A.D. ,  &c. 

Not  only  in  the  choice  of  subjects  but  also  in  the 
framing  of  the  plots,  poets  were  sometimes  guided  by 
idealistic  motives.  Thus  Kalidasa  described  the  physical 
beauty  of  Parvati  to  its  perfection  in  the  Kumar a- 
sambhava,  but  in  the  matter  of  the  fruition  of  her  love 
for  a  great  yogin  like  Siva,  the  fragile  physical  beauty 
was  not  deemed  enough.  She  must  go  through  the 
hardest  penance  in  order  that  she  may  make  her  love 
fruitful.  It  is  only  the  spiritual  glory  and  spiritual  attain- 
ment of  spiritual  beauty,  beauty  attained  by  self-control 
and  the  attainment  of  moral  height  that  can  become 
permanent  and  eternal.1  In  the  case  of  the  love  of 
Sakuntala,  who  in  the  intensity  of  her  love  had  forgotten 
her  duties  in  the  hermitage,  she  had  to  suffer  cruel 
rebuff  and  practical  banishment  in  sorrow.  The  lusty 
love  of  tTrva^I  was  punished  by  her  being  turned  into  a 
creeper.  Thus,  the  poet  Kalidasa,  when  describing  the 
passion  of  love,  is  always  careful  to  demonstrate  that 
hama  should  not  in  its  intensity  transgress  the 
dharma.  But  the  same  poet  was  not  in  the  least 
perturbed  in  giving  us  glowing  experiences  of  conjugal 
satisfaction  that  took  place  between  Siva  and  Parvati,  or 
conjugal  yearning  in  the  case  of  the  Yaksa  for  his 

1    iye$a     sd      kartumabandhya-rupatam      samddhimdsthdya      tapobhir- 

dtmanah  \ 

avdpyate  vd  kathamanyathadvayvm   tathdvidham  prema  patisca    tddr- 

—Kumarasambhava9  Canto  V,  2. 



The  ideal 

beloved  spouse.    Kama  in  itself  is    not   undesirable  or 
bad,  but  when    it   transgresses    dharma    it  becomes 
wicked.     The  kama  of  King  Agnivarna    in   Raghu- 
vaniSa  led  to  his  destruction.    It  is  for  this  reason 
that    the    Sanskrit    poets    of  India  instead  of   por- 
traying mere  characters  or  giving  expression  to  ardent 
love  or  other  sentiments  as  such,   or   devising   their 
plots  at    random  from  their  everyday  sphere   of  ex- 
periences,  had   to  adopt  a  particular  scheme,  a  frame- 
work of  types,   within   which   limitations  they  had  to 
give  vent  to  their  poetic   effusions.     The  scheme  or 
the  frame  should  be  such  that  the  .fundamental  principle 
that  dharma,    artha  and    kama  should   not   transgress     °   marga' 
one    another    leading    to      disastrous     results,     may 
be  observed.      But   here   again,     with    the   exception 
of  Bhasa,    most  of   the   writers   had  conformed  to  the 
poetic   convention  that   no    drama   should    end     with 
disastrous  consequences.     Here   again,    a  drama  as  an 
work  of  art    was   regarded  as  a  whole,  as  a  cycle  com- 
plete  in   itself.     A     drama    ending     with     disastrous 
consequences   would   be   a   mutilated   piece  from    the 
world  of  our  experience — it   would  merely  mean  that 
the   cycle   has   not   been    completed,   or  that  it  is  only 
a  partial   view   and  not  the   whole.      Inspite  of  the 
charge  of  pessimism  often  laid  at  the  door  of  Indian 
thought  by  the  Westerners,  it  should  be  noted  that 
the  Indians   who   admit,  sorrow  as  a  partial  aspect  of 
things  would  regard  it  as  negative  in  the  conception 
of  the  whole  or  totality.    A  drama  in  its  totality  must 
aim  at  some  realisation.     It  is  for  this  reason  that  the 
fully  developed  drama,  viz.,  a  nataka,  should  have  in  it 
five   critical   situations  called  the  mukha,   pratimukha, 
Ijarbha,   vimarta  and  nirvahana.    Thus  in  the  drama 
Ratnavali,   the   love  of   Sagarika  at  seeing  the  king 
Udayana    at  first  sight,  introduces  the  main  theme 

Drama — 
an  epitome 
of  life. 

The  five 


of  the  drama  which  would  culminate  in  the  end  in 
the  happy  union  of  tldayana  with  Sagarika.  This 
is  the  seed,  as  it  were,  which  would  fructify  in 
the  whole  drama.  This  seed  of  first  love  was  some- 
what obscured  by  the  artifice  of  the  king  and  other 
events  that  followed,  but  its  shoot  is  again  manifested 
when  in  Act  II  through  the  arrangement  of  Susangata 
king  Udayana  and  Sagarika  met  each  other.  This  is 
called  the  pratimukha-sandhi.  The  garbha-sandhi  is 
that  in  which  there  are  obstructive  events  which  lead 
the  reader  to  doubt  whether  the  hopes  raised  would  be 
fulfilled  or  not.  Thus,  when  in  Sakuntala  we  have 
the  curse  of  Durvasa  and  later  on,  the  repulsion  of 
Sakuntala  by  the  king  in  the  Court,  and  her  dis- 
appearance, we  have  the  garbha-sandhi.  Later  on, 
when  at  the  sight  of  the  ring  the  king  is  reminded  of 
Sakuntala,  we  have  the  vimarta-sandhi,  or  inspite  of 
the  obstruction  and  doubt,  the  reader  is  again 
encouraged  to  hope  and  is  partially  satisfied  with  regard 
to  the  expected  union.  The  last  nirvahana-sandhi  is 
that  in  which  the  king  Dusyanta  becomes  again  united 
with  Sakuntala  in  Act  VII.  Thus  the  five  critical 
situations  constitute  a  unity,  an  epitome  of  our  life  as 
a  whole.  Life  has  its  crises,  its  difficulties  and 
disappointments,  but  we  have  always  to  be  hopeful 
regarding  the  final  fulfilment.  The  drama  is  thus  the 
reflection  of  life  as  a  whole  from  the  Indian  point  of 
view  and  contains  its  own  philosophy.  The  critics, 
however,  recommend  further  divisions  of  each  of  the 
critical  stages  into  which  we  need  not  enter.  What 
is  important  to  note  here  is  the  general  review  of 

of          Drama   has  several  forms,  viz.,  nataka,  prakarana? 
nfitifefl,     prakarani,     vyayoga,      samavakftra,     bhclna, 
dttna,  utsr§tikahka,  lhamrga,  vlthi  and  prahasana.  The 


ptakarana   deals    with   the     plot    consisting    of    the 
characters  of   ordinary   people,   such  as  the  minister, 
Brahmin,  merchant  and  the  like  and  the  plot  generally 
is   the   poet's   own  invention,   or  taken  from  historical 
episodes.    Thus  Malatlmadhava  is  a  prakarana.    The 
heroine  may  either  be  a  wife  or  a  courtesan.  In  Mrccha- 
katika  we  have  a  courtesan  as  a  heroine  and  in  Malatl- 
madhava a   wife.     The  other  characters  belong    also 
to  the  sphere   of  common  people.    Among  the  women 
characters   we   have  the  procuresses  and  other  common 
women.    In  a   prakarana  there  are  generally  troublous 
events   and  the   principal   hero  is  of  a   patient    and 
peaceful  temperament    (dhiratanta) .      The    natika  is 
a   mixture  of  nataka  and   prakarana.     The  principal 
sentiment  is  generally  love  and  the   hero   is  generally 
of   a   soft   and   amorous   temperament.     It    generally 
deals   with   the   characters    of   kings.     The  hero  king 
is   always   afraid  of  the  queen  in  carrying  on  his  amor- 
ous adventures.     There  are  more  heroines  than  heroes. 
It   may  be  of  one,  two,  three  or  four  Acts.     A  bhana 
portrays   the   character  of  a  knave  or  rogue  (dhurta), 
wherein  only  one  person  acts  in   imaginary  dialogues, 
i.e.,   behaving  as   if   the   actor  was  responding  to  the 
question  or  speech  of  another   and   it  consists  only   of 
one  Act  and  it  may  include  dancing  as  v^ll.     Though 
there  is  but  only  one  actor,    he  carries  on  dialogues 
with  imaginary  persons  not  present  on  the  stage.    It 
may  also  include  singing.    Sometimes  one  may  sit  and 
recite  with  gestures.    It  generally  portrays  the  amorous 
sentiment    and  sometimes  heroism,      The    prahasana 
consists  in   portraying   the  sentiment  of  the  ludicrous 
generally  at  the  expense  of  the  religious    sects ;  the 
actors   and  actresses  are  generally  courtesans  and  their 
associates  and  the  members  of  the  sects  at    whose 
expense  the  fun  is  being  enjoyed.    It  generally  consists 


of  one  Act.    A  dima  portrays  the    behaviours    and 
characters  of  ghosts  and  ghostly  beings,  Gandharvas, 
Yak§as  and  Baksasas.    It  generally  portrays  the  senti- 
ment of  anger  and  that  of  the  loathsome  and  disgusting 
and  treats  of  dreadful   things   like   the    eclipse,    the 
thunder  and  the  comet.     It  generally  consists   of  four 
Acts  and  has  four  critical  situations.     As  examples  of 
this,  one  may  refer  to  the  Tripuradaha,  Vrtroddharana 
and  Tdrakoddharana .     A  vyayoga  has  for  its  hero  either 
gods  or  kings  and  has  but   few  actors, — three,  four   or 
five,    but   not   exceeding   ten.     The  two  critical  situa- 
tions,   garbha   and   vimar$a   are  absent.     It  describes 
generally   deeds  of  violence   and    fighting,     but    the 
fighting  is  not  for  the  sake  of  any  woman.    It  generally 
deals    with  the   happenings  of  one  particular   day.     A 
samavakara  deals    with   legendary  episodes  of  the  con- 
flict between  the  gods  and  demons.     It  generally   deals 
with  the  sentiment  of  heroism   and  generally  consists 
of  three  Acts  of  three  different  times.     It  portrays  siege 
of  cities  or  battles  or  stormy  destructions  or  destructions 
through  fire.    The   Samudramanthana  by  Vatsaraja  is 
a  good  illustration   of   samavakara.     A   mthi  consists 
of  one  Act,  like  the  Vakulavithi.    It  generally  portrays 
the  sentiment  of  love  and   is  sometimes   accompanied 
with  dancing  and  amorous  gestures  and  generally  there 
is  one  or  two   actors.     The  utsrstikdhka  deals  with 
a  known  legend  or  a  fairy  tale  and  portrays  cruel  deeds 
and  battles.     Many  young   women  are  introduced  as 
weeping  and  sorrowing.     Though    full'    of    dreadful 
events,  it  would  end  in  peace.    Generally  it  contains 
three  Acts.     Actual  killing  should  not  be  shown  on  the 
stage  though  sometimes  violation  of  this  rule  is  seen, 
as  in  the  utsrstikanka  called  the  Nagananda,  where 
Jimiitavahana  dies  on  the  stage.    An  lhamrga  portrays 
fighting  for  the  sake  of  women  and  the  hero  may  be 


godly  or  human  and  there  may  be  great  fights  for  the 
possession  of  heavenly  nymphs.  There  are  generally 
four  Acts  and  the  plot  is  derived  from  well-known  stories 
modified  by  the  dramatist. 

A  review  of  these  various   forms  of  dramatic  per- 
formance  sheds  some  new  light  upon  the  problem  of  the 
evolution  of  the  drama.     Of  these  various  forms  of  the 
drama   it  is  only   the  ndtaka   and  the  prakarana  that 
may  be  regarded  as  full-fledged  dramas.     Of  these  two, 
again,  the  ndtaka  should  be  based   upon  a  well-known 
story  and  the  hero,  who  is  generally  a  king,  should  be 
possessed  of  all  kingly  qualities.  Though  the  story  should 
be  derived  only  from  legends,  yet  whatever  may  be  im- 
proper or  undesirable  should  be  left  out.    There  should 
be  many  characters   in    it    and   there  should  be  the 
five  sandhis  and  a  proper  balance   between   the  various 
Acts.     The  sentiment  to  be  portrayed  should  be  either 
heroic  or   amorous   and  nothing  that  may  be  shocking, 
dreadful  or   shameful  should  be  shown   on  the  stage. 
It  should  consist  of  at  least  five  Acts  and  it  should  not 
have  more  than  ten  Acts  and  each   Act  should  contain 
the  event  of  one  day  or  half  a  day.     The  Vikramorvasl 
is  a  five-Act  drama,  the  Rdmdbhyudayaa,  six-Act  drama, 
the  Sakuntala  a  seven-Act  drama,  the  Nalavikrama  an 
eight- Act  drama,  the  Deviparinaya  a  nine-Act  drama  and 
the  Bdlardmdyana  a  ten-Act  drama.     The  ndtaka  form 
of  drama  is  regarded  as  the  best  and  it  is  supposed  to 
contribute  todfearma,  artfeaand  kdma  inconsistency  with 
each  other.1    The  prakarana  resembles  the  ndtaka,  only 

ato  hi  nfyakasya'sya  pr&thamyarp  parikalpitam  I 
wafj/o-fledan*  vidhayadavwin&ha  pit&mahalj,  I 
dharmadi-sadhanavp  natyarp,  sarva-duhkhd-panodanam  I 
dsevadhvam  tadrsayas  tasyotthanam  iu  nafakam  I 
divya-manufa-saipyogo  yatrdhkairavidfyakaih  II 

BhAvapraltaiana  of  Sarsdatanaya  VIII,  pp.  287.238. 

ixxxv  i 


istics  of 
some     other 
forms  of  the 

the  plot  here  may  be  either  legendary  or  concocted  by 
the  poet,  It  also  contributes  to  dharma,  artha  and 
kama,  but  the  characters  are  not  taken  from  the  higher 
sphere.  There  may  be  courtesans  here  or  legally 
married  wives  or  damsels  in  the  state  of  courtship 
but  they  are  all  taken  from  the  bourgeois,  such  as  in 
the  Mrcchakatika  or  the  Malatimadhava.  The  natika 
like  the  Ratnavall  or  the  Priyadarsika  also  deals  with 
characters  of  the  higher  sphere  and  they  are  generally 
of  the  amorous  type.  There  is  not  in  it  any  attempt 
to  contribute  to  dharma,  artha  and  kama  in  mutual 
consistency.  We  thus  find  that  it  has  not  the  same  high 
purpose  as  the  nataka  or  the  prakarana.  This 
accounts  for  the  fact  that  natakas  have  been  more  popu- 
lar and  we  have  an  immensely  larger  number  of  natakas 
than  any  other  form  of  the  drama.  This  is  consistent 
with  the  ideal  of  the  realisation  of  trivarga,  i.e., 
dharma,  artha  and  kama,  in  dramatic  performance.  It 
also  accounts  for  the  fact  that  we  have  so  few  of  the 
prahasana  and  the  bhana,  which  are  farces  and  parodies 
from  common  life.  There  may  have  been  the  earlier 
forms  of  popular  play  which  gradually  dwindled  away 
into  forgetfulness  with  the  pronounced  and  pointed 
development  of  the  ideal  of  trivarga  among  people  in 
general,  and  we  perceive  that  as  time  advanced  the  ideal 
of  dharma  as.  a  purpose  of  drama  was  more  and  more 
definitely  demanded.  When  with  the  Mahomedan 
occupation  the  religious  practices  ceased  to  be  encourag- 
ed by  kings,  people  wanted  to  be  reminded  of  the  old 
ideals  of  holy  characters  in  dramatic  plays  and  this 
explains  the  fact  why  after  the  12th  or  the  13th  century 
we  have  such  a  superabundance  of  Epic  kavyas  and 
dramas  with  religious  themes. 

Taken  at  random,  of  about  68  dramatic  pieces  after 
the  12th  century  A.D.,  we  find  that  the  plot  of  about 



41  of  them  were  taken  from  the  religious  legends  and 
only  27  from  the  secular  legends,  mostly  built  upon  the 
story  available  from  Gunacjhaya's  source.  Of  these  41 
dramatic  pieces  drawn  from  the  religious  legends,  27 
are  natakas,  one  is  a  prakarana,  3  are  vyayogas,  2 
dimas,  one  Ihdmrga,  4  utsrstikahkas,  2  samavakaras. 
Of  the  27  dramatic  pieces  from  secular  sources,  6  are 
natakas,  11  prakaranas,  3  prahasanas,  2  vtthis,  4 
natikas  and  one  lhamrga.  We  thus  see  that  the  natakas 
by  far  exceeded  all  other  forms  of  dramatic  compositions 
and  most  of  them  ^were  taken  from  religious  legends. 
All  vyayogas  (three),  dimas  (two),  utsrstikahkas  (four) 
and  samavakaras  (two)  are  religious.  There  is  one 
secular  lhamrga  and  one  religious.  The  bhana  and  the 
prahasana  cannot  by  nature  be  religious  and  we  have 
only  4  prahasanas  including  the  Hasyacudamani,  and 
there  is  one  bhana  called  the  Karpuracarita.  Among 
those  derived  from  secular  legends,  there  are  some 
natakas ,  prakaranas,  two  vtthis  and  4  natikas.  The 
dima,  we  have  already  seen,  deals  with  episodes  of 
supernatural  beings  like  the  ghosts  and  goblins.  The 
vyayoga  and  the  samavakdra  deal  generally  with  dreadful 
events,  battles  between  the  demons  and  the  gods  and 
it  is  probable  that  they  existed  as  the  earlier  forms 
of  dramatic  representations  portraying  the  defeats  of  the 
asuras  and  the  aboriginal  races  in  their  conflict  with 
the  Aryans.  The  bhana  and  the  prahasana  were 
generally  comic  representations  from  popular  life  of  a 
lower  status  and  they  displayed  no  moralising  tendency. 
These  were  the  first  to  disappear.  Those  dramatic 
forms  of  representation  like  the  vyayoga,  dima  and 
samavakara  which  represented  military  valour,  anger 
or  irascibility  of  temper,  could  not  also  stand,  as  with 
the  distance  of  time  actual  episodes. of  battles,  etc., 
which  had  at  one  time  agitated  the  public  mind  and 

of  religions 
motive  ID 
the  dramatic 

tics of  differ- 
ent types  of 
the  drama. 



The  subjects 
of  dramas 
and  Epics 
are  mostly 
taken  from 

represented  the  mock  triumph  of  the  Aryan  people 
over  their  neighbours,  ceased  to  interest  the  public 
mind.  The  fact  that  Bbasa,  whose  works  are  the 
earliest  representatives  of  our  dramatic  literature  now 
available,  gives  equal  importance  to  these  as  to  the 
natakas  indicates  the  possibility  of  their  existence  in 
larger  numbers  in  earlier  times  which  are  now  lost.  It 
is  remarkable  to  note  that  Bhasa  also  draws  upon 
religious  legends  in  a  large  measure.  Of  the  two 
fragmentary  dramas  of  A^vaghosa,  one  is  the  Sariputra- 
prakarana  and  the  other  is  a  religious  allegory  like  the 
Prabodha-candrodaya  of  later  times,  and  the  religious 
motive  is  apparent  in  both  of  them. 

In  the  drama  of  later  times,  i.e.,  from  the  12th  to 
the  18th  century,  taking  a  review  of  about  33  dramas, 
we  find  that  almost  all  of  them  are  based  on  either  the 
Rama  or  the  Krsna  legend.  Hardly  any  drama  had 
been  written  during  this  period  which  may  be  said  to 
have  been  based  upon  the  story-material  of  Gunacjhya 
which  in  the  later  centuries  before  Christ  and  through- 
out many  centuries  after  the  Christian  era  supplied 
materials  to  so  many  dramas.  The  same  thing  may  be 
said  with  more  emphasis  regarding  the  Epic  kavyas. 
With  the  exception  of  the  Carita-kavyas  or  biographical 
epics  there  have  hardly  been  any  Epic  kavyas  through- 
out the  centuries  which  have  not  been  based  on  the  reli- 
gious legends.  Valmiki's  Ramayana,  the  Mahabharata 
and  the  Kj^na  legends  from  the  Puranas  had  stood  as 
inexhaustible  stores  from  which  poets  could  either 
borrow  or  adapt  legends  with  modifications  for  their 
kavya.  The  Prafasti  kavyas  were  all  inspired  with 
feelings  of  loyalty  to  great  kings  or  patrons  and  such 
loyalty  could  be  compared  only  to  devotion  to  God. 
Thus,  both  in  the  dramas  and  in  the  kavyas  the  scope  of 
the  poet's  treatment  was  limited  by  the  considerations 



of  trivarga-siddhi.  The  Sanskrit  poets  were  as  a  rule 
very  fond  of  delineating  the  amorous  sentiment  or  the 
sentiment  of  love.  But  they  could  give  play  to  the 
portrayal  of  their  erotic  predilections  only  in  a  limited 
manner  in  the  kavyas  and  the  dramas  so  far  as  is  con- 
sistent with  normal,  social  and  conjugal  rules  of  life  ; 
but  in  this  sphere  the  elaborate  description  of  feminine 
beauty  and  post-nuptial  amorous  enchantments  gave  the 
poets  sufficient  scope  to  indulge  in  their  tendency  to 
give  expression  to  passions  and  longings.  Long  sepa- 
rations were  also  good  situations  for  portraying  amorous 

But  whether  in  literature  or  not,  the  bodily  side  of 
the  passion  or  the   structural   conditions  of   feminine 
beauty  have  found  a  place  of  importance  and  except  in 
the  works  of  a  few  artists  or  poets,    the   representations 
of  the  physical  side  seem  to  our  taste  to  be  rather  crude. 
It  does   not,   of   course,    prove   that   the   passion   was 
burning   more   in   the  blood  of  the  Hindus  than  in  the 
blood  of  other  races.     It   probably  simply   means  that 
kama  being  one  of  the  constituents  of  trivarga,  voluptu- 
ousness and  sensuality  and   appreciation  of  feminine 
beauty  as  sanctioned  by  dharma  was  quite  innocent  and 
had  nothing  to  be  abashed  of.     The  passion   of  kama, 
as  has  been  mentioned  above,  had  two  spheres,  one  that 
was  enjoined  by  dharma  where  non-indulgence  of  the 
passions  would  be  a  punishable  sin,  and  the  other  when 
it  was  not  enjoined  by  dharma  but  when  such  indul- 
gence did  not  transgress  the  limits  of  dharma.     So  the 
poets  also  portrayed  passionate  love  in  the  latter  sphere 
and  these  portrayals  in  the  satakas  and  elsewhere  form 
some  of  the  best  specimens  of  Sanskrit  amorous  poetry. 
It  has  been  said  above  that  the  drama  or  Epic  kQvya 
was   looked  upon   in  this  country  not  as  a  portrayal  of 
any  scene  of  life  or  any  characters  that  came  within  the 

The  place  of 
love  as  a 
member  of 
the  trivarga 

in  literature. 

T 1Q4QT) 


experience  of  the  poet  but  that  they  were  generally 
regarded  as  giving  an  epitome  of  complete  life  either  of 
the  great  religious  heroes  or  of  kings  famous  in 
traditional  or  legendary  accounts.  Evem  the  story  of 
Gunadhya  had  a  sanctified  atmosphere  about  it  on 
account  of  the  fact  that  it  was  often  believed  that  it  was 
originally  narrated  by  Lord  Siva  to  Parvatl  (hara- 
mukhodgirnd).  It  is  on  this  account  that  in  the  great 
kavyas  where  royal  life  was  depicted,  wars  and  battles, 
svayanivaras,  kingly  magnanimity  and  royal  episodes  of 
love  were  narrated  and  in  dramas  also  which  were  not 
professedly  of  a  didactic  character,  the  principal  subject- 
matter  was  an  episode  of  love  and  on  some  occasions 
heroism  also. 

It  is  on  account  of  a  loyalty   ingrained  deeply  in  the 
of  indUn       mental  structure  of  Hindu  life  that  Hindu  creations 

either  in  art,  literature  or  philosophy  have  always 
followed  the  course  of  creating  types,  where  individual- 
ity has  always  remained  shy  to  express  itself  in  its  full 
height.  Thus,  in  philosophy  also  we  do  not  get  a  free 
response  of  thought  moving  forward  largely  untramelled 
by  conditions,  but  always  leaning  towards  certain  fixed 
points  which  are  like  the  Cartesian  co-ordinates  deter- 
mining its  exact  situation.  Thus,  almost  every  Indian 
philosophy  should  admit  the  validity  of  the  Vedas,  the 
doctrine  of  re-birth  or  transmigration,  the  possibility  of 
salvation  and  the  root-cause  of  the  world  as  being  some 
form  of  ignorance.  Within  these  limits  each  system  of 
Indian  philosophy  develops  its  own  views  and  predilec- 
tions. Each  system  can  criticise  the  above  concepts, 
may  explain  its  theory  of  knowledge  and  the  nature  of 
the  world,  a  concept  of  bondage  and  salvation  and  the 
ways  that  may  be  adopted  for  that.  So  in  art  also, 
most  forms  of  pictorial  or  statuary  art  and  even  the 
architectural  art  of  India  would  have  some  message  tq 

iNtKObtCTlON  fcci 

communicate  and  a  physical  portrayal  would  rather 
sacrifice  its  faithfulness  to  nature  in  the  interest  of  the 
message  to  be  communicated  rather  than  be  realistic 
and  devote  itself  only  to  the  delineation  of  beauty. 

Under  these  circumstances,  an  Epic  is  supposed  to 
have  for  its  hero  some  king  or  kings  of  the  same  race. 
The  story  must  be  taken  from  a  legend.  It  should 
include  within  it  deprecatory  remarks  about  evil  deeds 
and  the  edification  of  the  noble,  description  of  natural 
scenes,  mountains,  forests  and  oceans,  morningreveningA 
and  the  seasons. 

Every  kind  of  human  production, — literature,  music, 
fine  arts,  philosophy,  science,  state-craft, — has  for  its 
direct  cause  a  moral  disposition  or  a  combination  of  ?/  «J  *nd 

L  literature. 

moral  dispositions  which  seems  somehow  internally  to 
determine  these  products.  The  conditions  of  race, 
epoch  and  environmental  conditions  and  circumstances 
bring  out  to  prominence  certain  moral  conditions  which 
are  suited  to  the  production  of  particular  types  of  archi- 
tecture, painting,  sculpture,  music  or  poetry.  Each  has 
its  special  law  and  it  is  by  virtue  of  this  law,  acciden- 
tally as  it  may  appear,  that  development  takes  place 
amidst  the  diversion  of  its  neighbours,  like  painting  in 
Flanders  and  Holland  in  the  17th  century,  poetry  in 
England  in  the  16th  century,  music  in  Germany  in  the 
18th.  At  such  times  in  such  countries  the  conditions  are 
fulfilled  for  one  art  rather  than  for  another.  There  is 
a  special  kind  of  psychology,  a  mental  perspective 
required  for  the  development  of  each  of  these  arts. 
There  is  a  peculiar  inner  system  of  impressions  and 
operations  which  makes  an  artist,  a  believer,  a  musician, 
a  painter,  a  wanderer,  or  a  man  of  society.  Literature 
is  like  living  monuments  of  the  outstanding  personalities 
of  different  times.  Literature  is  instructive  because  it 
is  beautiful.  Its  utility  depends  upon  its  perfection. 

It  deals  with  visible  and  almost  tangible  sentiments 
and  the  more  a  book  represents  the  important  sentiment 
of  the  people  the  higher  is  its  place  in  literature.  It  is 
by  representing  the  mode  of  being  of  the  whole  Nature 
of  a  whole  age  that  a  writer  can  collect  round  him  the 
sympathies  of  an  entire  age  and  an  entire  nation.  It  is 
not  mere  catechisms  or  chronicles  that  can  impress 
upon  us  the  inner  nature  of  a  person  or  a  nation.  It  is 
the  inner  movement  of  sentiments  and  interests,  ideals 
and  emotions  made  living  through  artistic  expression, 
that  can  hold  before  us  the  life  of  a  people. 

It  is  curious  to  notice  that  Indian  life  and  manners 

continued  to  present  a  pattern  for    decades  of  centuries. 

There  was  growth  and  development  but  more  or  less  on 

the  same  line.     It    was  only  after  the  Mahammadan 

invasion  and  finally  with  the  occupation  of  the  country 

by  the  British  that  the  system  of  its  life  and  manners 

and  even  the  psychology  of  the  people  has  undergone  a 

rude  change — a  change  which  at  the  first  shock  had 

stunned  the  mind  of  the  people   with  the  advent  of  the 

new  sciences,   new  ways  of  thought,  new  perspectives 

which  brought  with  it  the   whole    history  of  Western 

culture  with  its  massive  strength   hurled    against  the 

Indian  people.     During  the  first  130    years  or  so  the 

nerve  of  the  Indian  mind  was  almost  paralysed  by  this 

rude  shock  and  during  the   past   50  years  the  Indian 

mind  is  again  trying  to  undersfand  the  value  of  the 

contribution  of  this  culture   and  has  been   trying  to 

become  self-conscious  and   rise  above  its  influence — a 

fact  which  may  be  well  appreciated  not  only  by  the 

growing  political  consciousness  and  demand  for  freedom 

but  also  from  the  history  of  the    Bengali  literature, 

culminating  in  the  literature  of  Poet  Eabindranath  in 

whose  writings  we  find  a  clear  and  concrete  method  as 

to  how  the  Western  culture  can  be  synthesised  with  the 


Indian  genius  without  submitting  and  drooping  down 
before  the  former  but  rising  above  it  and  yet  assimila- 
ting its  best  fruits  and  introducing  such  changes  in  our 
outlook  and  perspective  as  are  consonant  with  our  past 
and  yet  capable  of  assimilating  the  new  for  a  creative 

The  reason  of  the  continuity  of  Indian  culture  is  Of  Indian* 7 
largely  to  be  found  in  the  insular  character  of  our  civi-  cultnre- 
lisation  and  the  extreme  doggedness  and  obstinacy 
amounting  to  haughtiness  and  national  pride  rising  to 
the  level  of  religion  against  the  conscious  acceptance  of 
any  contribution  from  any  foreigner.  This  could  be 
possible  largely  because  of  the  fact  that  this  national 
pride  had  become  identified  with  our  religion.  Our 
legal  literature  is  called  Dharmat&stra  or  religious  litera- 
ture. Manners,  customs,  professions  and  the  like,  the 
creation  of  our  social  classes  with  their  restricted  duties, 
divisions  of  life  into  different  stages  with  their  ordained 
duties,  are  not  for  us  mere  social  adjustments  due  to 
diverse  social  and  environmental  causes  but  it  has  been 
the  essence  of  Hindu  religion.  The  Smrtis  or  the  Indian 
legal  literature  has  codified  for  every  member  of  every 
social  class  the  nature  of  his  duties.  The  law  is  not 
merely  for  regulating  our  conduct  to  our  fellow- 
beings  but  for  regulating  the  entire  course  of  our 
daily  life,  eating,  drinking  and  the  like  from  birth 
to  death.  Though  at  different  times  people  have  more 
or  less  deviated  from  the  strict  programme  laid  down 
by  the  Smrtis,  yet,  on  the  whole,  the  social  life  has 
strictly  and  uniformly  followed  not  only  the  general 
scheme  laid  by  the  Smrtis  but  also  most  of  the 
particular  details.  I  have  said  above  that  the  stringent 
grip  of  the  Smrtis  became  more  and  more  tightened 
with  the  advance  of  centuries.  Thus,  for  example,  the 
prescriptions  of  the  medical  science  aa  regards  food  and 


drink  as  found  in  the  Caraka  in  the  1st  century  A.D,, 
is  found  wholly  unacceptable  in  the  legal  literature  of 
later  times.  Restrictions  of  food  and  drink  and 
various  other  kinds  of  conduct  and  practice  became 
more  and  more  stringent,  signifying  thereby  a 
slackening  tendency  in  society. 

Marx  has  said  that  division  of  the  social  classes 
has  always  been  the  result  of  conflict  between  the 
capitalists  and  the  working  classes  and  that  the 
development  of  social  culture,  the  production  of 
literature,  philosophy,  music  and  the  like,  is  the  result 
of  the  change  in  economic  conditions  and  means  of 
production.  But  both  these  theses  seem  to  lose  their 
force  in  the  case  of  India.  Here  we  have  the  develop- 
ment of  philosophy,  art  and  literature  though  there 
has  practically  been  no  change  in  the  means  of 
economic  production. for  more  than  2,000  years.  The 
Brahmins  had  a  position  which  was  even  greater  than 
that  of  a  king,  not  to  speak  of  a  Vaisya  capitalist,  and 
yet  there  was  no  theocracy  in  India  like  the  Papal 
domination  of  the  West  or  like  the  system  of  the  Caliphs 
in  Islam.  The  Brahmins  were  poor  and  self-abnegating 
persons  who  generally  dedicated  their  lives  to  learning 
and  teaching  and  to  the  practice  of  religious  works. 
They  did  not  interfere  with  the  rules  of  kings  except  when 
some  of  them  were  appointed  ministers  but  they  laid 
down  a  scheme  of  life  and  a  scheme  of  conduct  which 
had  to  be  followed  by  all  persons  from  the  king  to  the 
tanner.  It  was  this  enforcement  of  a  universal  scheme 
of  life  that  often  protected  the  people  from  misrule  and 
tyranny  on  the  part  of  kings.  It  is  no  doubt  true  that 
in  a  few  exceptions  there  had  been  tyranny  and 
misrule,  but  on  the  whole  the  kings  had  to  follow  a 
beneficent  scheme  for  it  was  the  law.  It  is  principally 
at  the  time  of  the  Mauryas  that  we  find  many  laws 



introduced  which  were  advantageous  to  the  king  but 
the  Mauryas  were  Sudras.  At  the  time  of  the  Ksatriya 
kings  we  again  find  the  laws  of  Srnjli  revived.  The 
caste  system  had  already  come  into  force  in  its 
stringency  in  the  4th  century  B.C.  Thus,  Megasthenes 
says:  "No  one  is  allowed  to  marry  out  of  his  own 
caste  or  to  exchange  one  profession  or  trade  for  another 
or  to  follow  more  than  one  business/'  The  existence 
of  the  caste  system  means  the  allocation  of  particular 
duties  in  society  to  particular  castes.  The  union  of 
the  Ksatriya  and  the  Brahmana,  of  the  king  and  the 
law-giver  in  the  council,  was  at  the  basis  of  the 
Hindu  Government.  There  was  a  joint- family  system 
very  similar  to  what  they  had  in  Rome,  but  every 
individual  member  bad  a  locus  standi  in  the  eye  of  the 
law  and  the  father  of  the  family  was  like  the  trustee 
of  the  family  property.  The  king  and  the  Brahmin 
were  the  trustees  of  society,  the  king  by  protecting  and 
enforcing  the  laws  of  dharma  and  the  Brahmin  by 
promulgating  them.  The  Brahmins,  as  it  were,  were 
the  legislators,  and  the  kings,  the  executives  and  the 
former  were,  so  far  as  the  legislation  went,  independent 
of  the  latter.  This  legislation,  however,  referred  not 
only  to  ordinary  juridical  conduct  but  to  all  kinds  of 
daily  duties  and  conduct  as  well.  But  when  the  laws 
were  codified,  though  the  Brahmin  as  a  purohita  or 
priest  retained  his  position  of  high  honour  and  respect 
from  the  king,  he  was  no  longer  a  constituent  of  the 
Government.  Thus,  the  seven  ahgas  constituting  the 
state  (svamya-matya-suhrt-kofa-rdstra'durga-baldni  ca, 
i.e.,  king,  councillor,  allies,  treasury,  people  and 
territory,  fortresses  and  army),  did  not  include 
Brahmins  as  a  constituent.  Gradually  the  importance 
of  the  king's  office  gained  in  strength  as  subserving  the 
primary  needs  and  interests  of  the  people  and  the 

tion a  Lid 
structure  of 


preservation  of  the  society  according  to  the  principles 
of  dharma.  But  even  the  king  was  bound  to  dispense 
justice  in  accordance  with  the  principles  of  dharma* 
The  dispensation  of  justice  was  not  only  necessary  for 
social  well-being  but  punishment  was  also  regarded  as 
having  a  purificatory  value  for  a  man's  post-mortem 
well-being.  The  unrighteousness  of  a  king  destroys 
dharma  in  the  society  and  creates  social  disturbances 
as  well  as  physical  misfortunes,  such  as,  untimely 
death,  famine  and  epidemic.  Thus  the  dispensation 
of  justice  and  its  failure  was  regarded  not  only  as 
having  immediate  but  also  transcendental  effects. 
The  king  thus  had  a  great  responsibility.  The  king 
exists  for  the  discharge  of  dharma  and  not  for  self- 
gratification  (dharmaya  raja  bhavati  na  kamaharanaya 
ideal  of  tu).  Almost  all  the  sciences  of  polity  are  in  thorough 
m  iawfland  agreement  with  the  view  that  a  king  must  first  of  all 
politl>8>  be  absolutely  self-controlled.  But  in  spite  of  all  these, 
there  were  teachers  like  Bharadvaja  who  would  advise 
any  kind  of  unprincipled  action  for  the  maintenance  of 
the  king's  power.  But  this  was  not  accepted  by  most 
of  the  political  authorities,  but  Kautilya's  code  leaned 
more  or  less  to  this  type  of  action.  In  the  Mahabharata 
we  find  many  passages  in  which  the  role  of  punishment 
is  extolled  and  Brhaspati  also  held  that  view.  Side  by 
side  with  the  view  of  divine  authority  of  kings  we  have 
also  in  the  Mah&bharata  and  the  Buddhist  canons  the 
view  that  the  king  was  elected  by  the  people  on  the 
terms  of  contract  which  involved  the  exchange  of  the 
just  exercise  of  sovereign  power  and  obedience  regarding 
payment  of  taxes  on  the  part  of  the  people.  In 
Kautilya  we  find  that  he  had  due  regard  for  the 
social  order  of  varnaframa  and  he  regarded  the 
importance  of  the  three  Vedas,  the  Varta-£astra  and 
Polity.  Kau^ilya  lays  great  importance  on  the  position 


of  the  king's  office.  The  king  constitutes  within 
himself  his  kingdom  and  his  subjects.  Yet  there  are 
many  passages  in  the  Artha£astra  to  indicate  that  king's 
authority  depends  upon  the  will  of  the  people  whom  he 
,has  always  to  keep  satisfied,  and  we  find  there  that  it  is 
the  duty  of  the  king  to  promote  the  security  and 
prosperity  of  the  people  in  lieu  of  which  the  subjects 
should  pay  taxes  to  him.  Kau^ilya  is  also  mainly 
loyal  to  the  DharmaSastra  principle  that  the  king  is  an 
official  who  is  entitled  to  receive  taxes  for  the  service 
of  protection  and  that  he  is  spiritually  responsible  for 
the  discharge  of  his  duties.  Kautilya  also  lays  down 
a  very  high  standard  of  moral  life  for  the  king.  Good 
education  and  self-control  are  the  first  requisites  of  good 
government.  Though  there  are  elaborate  rules  of 
foreign  policy,  Kautilya  definitely  lays  down  the  view 
that  no  king  should  covet  his  neighbour's  territories, 
and  in  case  of  battles  with  other  kings  it  is  his  duty  to 
restore  to  throne  the  most  deserving  from  the  near  rela- 
tions of  the  vanquished  king — a  policy  entirely  different 
from  that  of  the  imperialistic  governments  of  to-day.  A 
king  should  only  attempt  to  secure  safety  for  his  kingdom 
and  extend  his  influence  on  others.  In  later  times, 
between  900  and  1200  A.D.,  when  the  commentaries  of 
Medhatithi,  Vijnanesvara  and  Apararka  and  the  Jaina 
Nltivakyamrta  were  written,  we  have  the  view,  parti- 
cularly in  Medhatithi,  that  the  principles  of  rdjadharma 
and  dandaniti,  though  principally  derived  from  Vedic 
institutions,  are  to  be  supplemented  from  other  sources  tbf  king!*  °f 
and  elaborated  by  reason.  Thus,  Medbatithi  would  not 
restrict  the  office  of  kingship  to  a  Ksatriya  alone  but 
would  extend  it  to  any  one  who  is  ruling  with  proper 
kingly  qualities.  Kalidasa  also,  we  have  seen,  was 
consistent  with  the  teaching  of  the  old  Dharmatiastra 
that  the  term  ksatra  was  in  meaning  identical  to  the 


term   nrpa.    Ksatra  means   ksatdt   trdyate    and    nrpa 
means  nrn  pati.    The  other  aspect  of  the  king  is  that 
he  should  be  popular,   and  this  aspect  is  signified  by 
the  term  raja   (raja  prakrtiranjanat).    But  Medhatithi 
uses  the  term  raja,  nrpa  or  pdrthiva  to  mean  any  ruling 
prince.     Medhatithi  would  apply  the  term  nrpa  even  to 
provincial  governors.     The   subjects  have  the  inalien- 
able right  of  protection  by  the   king  by  virtue  of  the 
taxes  they  pay  to  him,  and  for  any  mischief  that  comes 
to  them,  the  king  is   responsible.     If  their  property  is 
stolen,  the  king  will   restore  the   value   of  the   articles 
stolen.     It  seems  also  that  Medhatithi  not  only  concedes 
to  the  view  that  the  subjects  may  even  in  normal  times 
bear  arms  for  self -protection,    but   when   the  king  is 
incompetent,   they   have   also   the   right   to  rebel  and 
suspend  the  payment  of  taxes.     But  during  the  12th  to 
the  17th  century  in  the  works  of  Sukra,   Madhava  and 
Para4ara,  we   find  again   the  theory  of  divine  right  of 
kings  coming  to  the  forefront   and   the  doctrine  of  the 
perpetual  dependence  of  subjects  on  the  king  and  of  the 
king's  immunity  from   harm   advocated,  which  tended 
to  contradict  the  earlier   concept  of  king  as  the  servant 
of  the  people. 

From  the  above  brief  review  we  can  well  understand 
the  light  in  which  the  kings  were  held  during  the 
really  creative  period  of  literature  beginning  from  the 
2nd  or  the  3rd  century  B.  C.  to  the  12th  century  A.D. 
The  ideal  of  a  king  depicted  in  the  Ramayana  and  also 
in  the  Mahabharata  as  also  in  the  works  of  Kalidasa  and 
other  writers,  reveals  to  us  the  integral  relation  of  soli- 
darity between  the  king  and  the  subjects.  Almost  every 
drama  ends  with  the  prayer  which  is  a  sort  of  national 
anthem  seeking  the  good  of  the  king  and  the  people.  The 
concept  of  the  king  involved  the  principle  that  he  would 
protect  the  people  and  be  of  such  ideal  character  and 



conduct  that  he  might  be  liked  by  all.  The  term 
prakrti,  etyrnologically  meaning  the  source  or  origin, 
was  a  term  to  denote  the  subjects.  This  implied  that  the 
king  drew  his  authority  from  the  subjects.  This  is  the 
reason  why  the  kings  often  excited  as  much  admiration 
as  the  gods  and  though  many  panegyric  verses  in  lite- 
rature may  have  as  their  aim  the  flattery  of  kings  for 
personal  gain,  yet  judging  from  the  general  relation 
between  the  king  and  his  subjects  it  can  hardly  be  doubt- 
ed that  in  most  cases  there  was  a  real  and  genuine  feeling 
of  sincere  admiration  and  love  for  the  king.  This  also 
gives  us  the  reason  why  royal  characters  were  treated, 
in  kavya  side  by  aide  with  the  characters  of  gods,  for 
the  king  was  god  on  earth  not  by  his  force  or  his  power 
of  tyranny  but  through  love  and  admiration  that  was 
spontaneous  about  him  on  the  part  of  the  subjects. 
The  cordial  relation  between  subjects  and  royal 
patrons  explains  the  origin  of  so  many  pra  fasti  and 
carita  kdvyas, 

If  we  take  a  bird's-eye  view  of  the  Sanskrit  litera- 
ture we  may  classify  them  as  Epic  and  Lyric  kdvyas, 
the  carita  kavyas  (dealing  with  the  lives  of  kings  and 
patrons  of  learning),  the  pra£astis  or  panegyrical  verses, 
the  different  types  of  dramas,  lyric  kavyas,  the  century 
collections  or  satakas,  the  stotra  literature  or  adoration 
hymns,  the  Campus  or  works  written  in  prose  and 
verse,  the  kathd,  literature,  the  nlti  literature,  the 
didactic  verses  and  stray  verses  such  as  are  found  in  the 
anthologies.  The  sources  of  the  materials  of  kavya  as 
held  by  Raja&khara,  are  Sruti,  Smrti,  Purana,  Itih&sa, 
Pramanavidya,  Samaya-vidya  or  the  sectarian  doctrines 
of  the  Saivas,  Pancaratrins,  etc.,  the  Artha6astra,  the 
Natya£astra  and  the  K&matastra,  the  local  customs 
and  matiners,  the  different  sciences  and  the  literature 
of  other  poets. 

The  place 
of  King  and 
in  litera- 

Types  of 


Apart  from  the  reference  to  poems  written  by  Paijini 
and  to  the  dramas  referred  to  in  the  Mahabhasya, 
probably  the  earliest  remains  of  good  drama  are  the 
dramas  of  Bhasa,  which  in  some  modified  manner  have 
recentty  ^een  discovered.  In  the  1st  century  B.C.  we 
and  the  have  the  works  of  Kalidasa  and  in  the  1st  century  A.D. 


poetry.          we  have  the  Buddha-carita,   the  Saundarananda,   the 
3ariputraprakarana  and  an  allegorical   drama   written 
by  A6vagho§a,  the  Buddhist  philosopher.     This  was  the 
time  of  the  Sungas,  the  Kanvas  and  the  Andhra  dynas- 
ties.    Pusyamitra     had   slain   his   master   Brhadratha 
Mauryya  and  had  assumed  sovereignty  of  the   Mauryya 
dominions  of'Upper  India  and  of  South  India  up  to  the 
Nerbudda  and  had  repulsed   Minander,   king  of  Kabul 
and  the  invader  was  obliged   to   retire    to    his    own 
country.     His  son  Agnimitra  had  conquered  Berar  and 
Pusyamitra   performed   the    Asvamedha   sacrifice    and 
revived  Hinduism.     The  Mdlavikagnimitra  of  Kalidasa 
gives  a  glowing   account   of    the    Rajasuya    sacrifice 
performed    by     Pusyamitra.     The    Buddhist    writers 
describe  him  as  having  persecuted  the  Buddhists.     The 
last  Bunga  king  Devabhuti   lost   his   life   and   throne 
through  the  contrivances    of    his  Brahmin    minister, 
Vasudeva.     He  founded  the  Kanva  dynasty,  which  was 
suppressed  in  28  B.C.  and  the  last  Kanva  king,  Su^ar- 
man,  was   slain   by  the  Andhras,    who    had    already 
established  themselves  by  the  middle  of  the  3rd  century 
B.C.  on  the  banks  of  the  Krsna.     The  Andhra  kings  all 
claimed  to  belong  to  the Satavahana  family.     The  name 
of  Hala  the  17th  king  has  come  down  to  us  because   of 
his  Sapta£ati  of  Prakrt  erotic  verses  of  great  excellence. 
It  seems  that  at  this  time  Prakrt  rather  than   Sanskrit 
was  the  language  of  poetry  in  the  South.     It  is  difficult 
to  ascertain  the    dates    of  Hala's  Saptatati  (which 
have,  however,  in  reality  430  stanzas  common  to  all 



recensions,  the  rest  may  be  an  interpolation).     Judging 
from  the  nature  of  the  Prakrt,  one  may  think  that  the 
work  was  probably  written  about  200  A.D.  though  it  is 
difficult  to  be  certain  of  its  date.     In  the  meanwhile, 
we  have  some  of  the  specimens  of  the  earliest  prose  in 
the  inscriptions  of  Kudradamana  in  Girnar  (A.D.  150). 
In  the  region  of  Bombay  we  get  foreign  rulers  like  the 
K§aharatas  who  were  probably  subordinate  to  the  Indo- 
Parthian   kings   in   the   1st   century   A.D.     The  next 
chief  was  Nahapana.     The  Ksaharatas,  however,  were 
extirpated    by    Gautamiputra-Satakarni,    the   Andhra 
king.     His  son,  Va&sthiputra  Sripulumayi,  had  married 
the  daughter  of   Rudradarnana  I,    the     Saka    Satrap 
of  Ujjayini,  but  much   of   the  territory  of  the   son-in- 
law  was   conquered    by    the    father-in-law.      As   we 
have  just   seen,    Sanskrit   was   the  court  language  of 
Eudradamana   and    Yajfiafri,    the  son  of  Vasisthiputra 
Sripulumayi,  who  was  a  great  king  of  military  exploits 
(173-202  A.D.).     The  fall  of  the  Andhra  kings  coincides 
approximately   with   the  death  of  Vasudeva,  the  last 
great  Kusan  king   of  North  Ipdia   and   with  the  rise 
of  the   Sassanian   dynasty    of    Persia    (A.D.     226). 
But  the    history   of  the  3rd   century   after     Christ  is 
rather  very   obscure.      The  only   important  tradition 
of  literary  growth   during  the  Andhras  is  the  legend 
about   king   Satavahana  or  Salivahana,  in  whose  court 
Gunadhya  and   Sarvavarmacarya  are  supposed  to  have 
lived.  Gunadhya  was  born  at  Prati§thana  in  the  Deccan 
on  the  banks  of  the  Godavarl.    This  city  of  Prati^hana 
is  the  capital   of    the  Andhrabhrtyas,  though  there  is 
much  doubt  about  the  location  of  the  city.    But  there 
is  a   Pratisthana  on  the  banks  of  the  Gauges  as  men- 
tioned in  the  Harivamta.     Bana  refers  to   Satavahana 
as  having  made  the    immortal  repertory  of  beautiful 
passages  and  this  seems  to  indicate  that  there  was  great 

conditions  in 
the  lat  tnd 
2nd  centuries 
B.C.  andibe 
literature  of 
tbe  time. 


cultivation  of  Sanskrit  poetry  even  before  Satavahana.1 
According  to  the  legend,  Satavahana's  adopted  father 
8srvavaim&.    wftg  Dipajkarjjj  an(j  this  indicates  that  he  may  have 

belonged  to  the  race  of  the  Satakarnis.  The  Hala 
Sapta$ati  also  conclusively  proves  that  there  was  an 
abundant  literary  production  in  the  Praki\lauguage 
and  we  have  also  strong  reasons  to  believe  that  there 
must  have  been  many  dramas  in  Prakrt.  But  we  do 
not  know  anything  more  about  the  exact  time  when 

Hala  may  have  flourished.  But  if  the  legend  is  to 
be  believed,  the  two  great  works,  the  K&tantra  of 
Sarvavarma  and  the  Brhatkatha  of  Gunacjhya  were 
written  at  this  time.  That  stories  used  by  Gunadhya 
were  floating  about  among  the  populace,  is  well  evident 
from  Kalidasa's  statement  udayana-katha-kovida-grama- 
vrddhan  in  the  Meghaduta  and  the  utilisation  of  those 
stories  by  Bbasa.  We  know  that  in  all  probability, 
Kalidasa  had  flourished  at  the  time  of  the-  later  Surigas 
and  Patanjali  the  grammarian  was  probably  engaged 
as  a  priest  in  the  Horse  Sacrifice  of  Puijyamitra.  We 
also  know  that  the  Saka  kings  like  Rudradamana  had 
taken  to  the  Sanskrit  language  and  Vai§nava  religion. 
We  also  know  from  the  inscriptions  in  the  Besnagar 
Column  that  the  Greek  ambassador  Heliodorus  had 
accepted  the  Bhagavata  religion.  It  is  also  probable 
th^Minander  the  Greek  king  had  become  a  Buddhist. 

'Mitbradates  I,  the  Persian  king  (170-136  B.C.), 
had  extended  his  dominions  up  to  the  Indus  and  this 
explains  why  the  chiefs  of  Taxila  and  Mathura  had 
assumed  Persian  titles  in  early  times  and  we  have  the 
remains  of  Persian  culture  in  the  excavations  of  Taxila. 

ratnairiva  8ubha$itafy  tt 



It  is  possible  that  a  Christian  Mission  under  St. 
Thomas  had  come  to  the  court  of  the  Indo-Parthian 
king  Gondophares  at  the  beginning  of  the  Christian 
era,  but  the  Mission  seems  to  have  left  no  impression. 
It  may  not  be  out  of  place  here  to  mention  that  neither 
Alexander's  conquest  nor  the  association  with  Bactrian 
kings,  seems  to  have  left  any  permanent  impression 
on  the  Indian  mind.  The  Punjab  or  a  considerable 
part  of  it  with  some  of  the  adjoining  regions  remained 
more  or  "less  under  Greek  rule  for  more  than  two  centuries 
(190  B.C.  to  iiO  A.D.),  but  except  the  coins  bearing 
Greek  legends  on  the  obverse,  hardly  any  effect  of 
Hellenisation  can  be  discovered.  It  is  surprising  that 
not  a  single  Greek  inscription  is  available.  There  is 
no  evidence  of  Greek  architecture.  The  well-known 
sculptures  of  Gandhara,  the  region  around  Peshawar, 
are  much  later  indeed  and  are  the  offsprings  of  cosmo- 
politan Graeco-Roman  art.  The  invasions  of  Alex- 
ander, Antiochus  the  Great,  Demetrios,  Eukratides  and 
Minander  were  but  military  incursions  which  left  no 
appreciable  mark  upon  the  institutions  of  India.  The 
people  of  India  rejected  Greek  political  institutions 
and  architecture  as  well  as  language. 

During  the  2nd  and  the  3rd  century,  Saivism  had 
established  itself  very  firmly  in  South.  The  Siva 
cult  had  long  been  in  existence  among  the  Dravidians 
and  by  the  3rd  century  A.D.  it  attained  almost  its 
finished  character  in  the  noble  and  devout  writings  of 
Manikkavachakara  in  Malabar.  The  Vasudeva  cult 
had  already  penetrated  into  the  south  and  by  the  3rd 
and  the  4th  century  A.D.  the  earliest  Alwar  thinkers 
had  started  the  Bhakti  literature. 

In  the  meanwhile,  the  Yueh-chis  being  attacked  by 
their  foes,  the  Sakas,  rushed  forward  and  after  subjugating 
Kabul,  entered  ioto  India  and  conquered  the  Punjab 

of  the 
Greeks  If  ft 
but  little 
influence  on 
culture  and 

Saiva  and 

in  the  early 
centuries  fo 
the  Chris. 
Man  era. 

A  career  of 
the  Sakat. 



of  Indian 
Empire  up 
to  Khotan 
and  in  the 
west  to 

converted  to 

under  Kadphises  I.  His  son  Kadphises  II  not  only 
established  his  power  in  the  Punjab  but  in  a  consider- 
able part  of  the  Gangetic  plain  in  Benares  (A.D.  45). 
But  these  parts  were  probably  governed  at  this  time 
by  military  Viceroys.  In  the  meanwhile,  the  Yueh- 
chis  were  being  attacked  by  the  Chinese.  Kani?ka 
tried  to  repel  the  Chinese  but  his  army  was  totally 
routed  and  he  had  to  send  several  embassies  to  China 
to  pay  tributes.  The  conquest  of  Kabul  by  the  Yueh- 
chis  opened  the  land  route  towards  the  West  and 
Roman  gold  of  the  early  Roman  Emperors,  such  as 
Tiberius  (A.D.  14-38)  began  to  pour  into  India 
in  payment  for  eilk,  spices,  gems  and  dye-stuff. 
Southern  India  at  the  same  time  was  holding  an  active 
maritime  trade  with  the  Roman  Empire  and  large 
quantities  of  Roman  gold  poured  into  India.  Now, 
Kadphises  II  was  succeeded  by  Kaniska  (58  B.C.). 
His  dominions  extended  all  over  North-Western  India 
as  far  as  the  Vindhyas.  A  temporary  annexation  of 
Mesopotamia  by  Trajan,  the  Roman  Emperor,  in  116 
A.D.  brought  the  Roman  frontier  within  600  miles 
of  the  western  limits  of  the  Yueh-chi  Empire. 
Kar\iska  had  also  conquered  Kashmir  and  attacked 
the  city  of  Pataliputra  from  where  he  took  away  the 
Buddhist  saint  A^vaghosa.  His  own  capital  was 
Purugapur  or  Peshawar.  Kaniska  had  also  conquered 
Kashgar,  Yarkand  and  Khotan.  Thus  the  limits  of 
the  Indian  Empire  extended  up  to  Khotan,  a  fact 
which  explains  the  migration  of  Buddhist  culture  and 
Indian  works  which  are  being  occasionally  discovered 
there.  The  most  important  thing  about  him  for  our 
purposes  is  that  he  was  converted  to  Buddhism,  as 
may  be  known  from  his  coins.  Buddhism  had  in 
his  time  developed  into  the  Mahayana  form  of  which 
A£vagho§a  was  such  an  important  representative  and 



the  image  of  Buddha  began  to  be  installed  in  different 
parts  of  his  Empire,  taking  a  place  with  the  older  gods, 
such  as  Siva  or  Visnu  and  an  elaborate  mythology 
of  Buddhism  developed.  It  is  at  this  time  in  the  2nd 
century  A.D.  that  we  have  the  style  of  sculpture 
described  as  the  Gandhara  school  which  was  a  branch 
of  the  cosmopolitan  Graeco-Roman  art.  This  style 
of  art,  which  is  much  inferior  to  the  indigenous  Indian 
art,  soon  lost  its  currency.  Kaniska  called  a  council 
for  the  interpretation  of  Buddhist  scriptures  and  about 
500  members  of  the  Sarvastivada  school  met  in 
Kashmir  and  the  Buddhist  theological  literature  under- 
went a  thorough  examination  and  elaborations  were 
made  in  huge  commentaries  on  the  Tripitaka.  This 
included  the  Mahavibhasa  which  still  exists  in  its 
Chinese  translation  and  it  is  said  that  these  commen- 
taries were  copied  on  sheets  of  copper  and  these  were 
deposited  in  a  stupa  near  Srlnagar.  From  the  time  of 
Kaniska  we  have  the  golden  age  of  the  development  of 
Buddhist  Mahayana  and  Sarvastivada  literature  as  also 
the  codification  of  most  of  the  Indian  philosophical 
sutras.  The  first  five  or  six  centuries  of  the  Christian 
era  were  also  the  age  of  great  philosophical  controversy 
between  the  Buddhists,  the  Hindus  and  the  Jainas. 
Asvaghosa  himself  had  written  the  tfraddhotpada-sutra 
and  the  Mahayana-sutralahMra.  It  has  been  urged 
by  Cowell  that  Kalidasa  had  borrowed  from  the 
Buddhacarita.  But  this  point  is  very  doubtful  and 
the  position  may  be  reversed.  The  similarity  of  a  few 
passages  in  the  Kumarasambhava  and  the  Raghuvarfifa 
does  not  prove  any  conscious  indebtedness  on  any  side, 
so  far  as  A6vagho§a's  Buddhacarita  is  concerned.  A6va- 
ghosa  also  wrote  a  book  pf  Buddhist  legends  called  the 
Sutralahkara  and  also  the  Vajrasucl.  More  or  less  about 
this  time  we  had  also  the  poet  Matrceta  and  also  the 

Else  of  the 
and  the 

Rise  of  the 

of  the  timei 


Buddhist  poet  Arya-gura  who  wrote  the  JatakamalU 
in  imitation  of  ASvaghosa's  Sutralankara.  His  dic- 
tion in  prose  and  verse  was  of  the  kavya  style.  Some  of 
the  important  Avadanas  were  also  written  during  the 
1st  or  the  2nd  century  A.D.  The  A£okavadana  was 
actually  translated  into  Chinese  in  the  3rd  century  A.D. 
It  is  curious  to  notice  that  these  Avadanas  which  were 
written  in  Sanskrit,  more  or  less  at  the  time  when 
the  Brhatkathd  of  Gunadhya  was  written  in  Pai&icl, 
were  seldom  utilised  by  the  Sanskrit  writers.  Many  of 
the  Avadana  legends  are  found  in  Ksemendra's  work  so 
far  as  the  essential  part  of  the  tales  is  concerned.  But 
the  didactic  element  is  preponderatingly  much  greater 
in  the  Buddhist  treatments.  The  great  Mahay  an  a 
writers  Nagarjuna,  Asanga,  Vasubandhu,  Candragomin, 
Santideva  and  others  began  to  follow  in  close  succession. 
The  Mahayana  literature  gradually  began  to  model 
itself  on  the  Puranas  and  the  introduction  of  the 
Dharanis  and  other  cults  and  rituals  as  well  as  the 
personification  of  powers  into  deities  led  to  the  rise  of 
the  Buddhist  Tantras.  The  Lahhavatara,  a  semi-philo- 
sophical and  semi-Tantrik  work,  was  written  probably 
sometime  in  the  4th  century  and  later  on  the  Yoga 
doctrine  modified  according  to  the  psychology  of  the 
different  people — among  the  Tibetan,  the  Chinese  and  the 
Japanese — assumed  diverse  forms.  The  stotra literature 
also  formed  the  model  of  the  Buddhist  stotras  and 
through  this  the  theatre  of  the  mental  operation  extended 
not  only  from  the  Hindukush  to  Cape  ComDrin  but  it 
extended  also  to  Further  India,  Tibet,  China,  Japan, 
Korea,  the  Malay -Archipelago  and  many  islands  in  the 
Indian  and  the  Pacific  Ocean  and  also  to  Central  Asia, 
Turkistan,  Turf  an  and  other  places. 

The  reign  of  Kaniska  terminated  in  or  about  123  A.D. 
After  him  Vasiska  and  Huviska  succeeded  and  Huviska 



was  succeeded  by  Vasudeva  I.  The  name  signifies  that 
he  was  converted  into  Hinduism  and  his  coins  exhibit 
the  figure  of  Siva  attended  by  the  bull,  Nandi  and  the 
trident.  Coins  are  found  during  the  period  238-269 
A.D.  where  a  royal  figure  clad  in  the  garb  of  Persia  (an 
imitation  of  the  effigy  of  Shahpur  I,  the  Sassanian)  is 
found,  which  indicates  Sassanian  influence  in  India. 
But  we  have  no  more  details  of  it  from  any  inscriptions 
of  literary  eminence.  Probably  numerous  Rajas  in  India 
asserted  their  independence  as  may  be  inferred  from 
muddled  statements  in  the  Puranas,  such  as  the 
Abhlras,  Gardabhilas,  Sakas,  Yavanas,  Vahlikas  and 
the  successors  of  the  &ndhras.  The  imperial  city  of 
Pataliputra  maintained  its  influence  as  late  as  the  5th 
century  A.D.  but  we  practically  know  nothing  about 
the  condition  of  the  interior  of  India  at  this  time. 

The  local  Raja  near  Pataliputra  called  Candragupta 
married  a  Licchavi  princess  named  Kumaradevi  about 
the  year  308  A.D.  We  do  not  hear  much  of  the 
Licchavis  in  the  intervening  period  of  history  since  the 
reign  of  Ajata&itru.  Candragupta  was  strengthened 
by  this  alliance  and  he  extended  his  dominion 
along  the  Gangetic  Valley  as  far  as  the  junction  of  the 
Ganges  and  the  Jamuna,  about  320  A.D.  Between  330 
and  335  A.D.  he  was  succeeded  by  his  son  Samudra- 
gupta  who  immediately  after  his  succession  plunged 
himself  into  war.  The  multitude  of  praSastis  in  the  ins- 
criptions have  immortalised  his  reign  in  Indian  history. 
The  elaborate  composition  of  Harisena  with  its  contents 
is  a  historical  document  which  is  remarkable  also 
as  a  linguistic  and  literary  landmark.  Samudragupta's 
Empire  extended  on  the  North  and  the  East  from  Kama- 
rflpa  to  Tamralipti  including  the  modern  site  of  Calcutta 
and  extended  westwards  in  a  straight  line  across  the 
Vindhyas  to  Guzerat  and  Saura§tra  later  on  acquired 


Rise  of  th» 
G  apt  as. 


by    his    son     Candragupta     II     and    on   the    north 
to  the   borders  of    .Nepal    up    to  the  banks  of  the 
Cbenab    river    in    the   Punjab.     He     performed     an 
Atvamedha    ceremony    and   is     reputed    to  have  been 
an     adept     not    only    in     music   and    song    but    it 
is  said  that  he  had  also  composed  many  metrical  works 
of  great  value  and  was  called  a  King  of  Poets.     He 
allowed  the  Buddhist  king  Meghavarna  of   Ceylon  to 
erect  a  monastery  and  temple  in  Buddhagaya.     In  the 
7th  century  when   Hiuen-Tsang  visited   it,   it  was  a 
magnificent      establishment       which      accommodated 
1000    monks   of    the    Sthavira    school     and   afforded 
hospitality    to    monks    from   Ceylon.     Samudragupta 
had      also    received     Vasuvaridhu.     Throughout    his 
conquests     he     secured     submission   of    the     various 
chiefs  but    he    seldom     annexed    their  territory.     He 
had   removed  his  capital  to  Ayodhya  from  Pataliputra. 
Thus    when    Hiuen-Tsang  came  in   the    7th   century, 
he  found  Patalipufcra    in  ruins  but  when  Raja&khara 
mentions    the     glory  of    Pataliputra,     he    refers  to 
Upavarsa,  Varsa,    Panini,    Pingala,   Vyadi,    Vararuci 
and  Patanjali  as   having  been  tested   according  to   the 
tradition  in  Pataliputra.1     His  successor    Candragupta, 
who     had   assumed  the   title   of     Vikramaditya,     led 
bis  conquests  to    the    Arabian  Sea  through    Malwa, 
Guzerat  and   Kathiuwad,    which   had  been   ruled    for 
centuries  by  the  Saka   dynasty.     We  know  that  the 
capital  of  Castana   and   his   successors    was    Ujjayim. 
Vidisa  was  also  the   important  centre   of   Agnimitra. 
But  Samudragupta  and  his  successors  had  made  their 
capital  in   Ayodhya.     It    will   therefore   be   wrong  to 
suppose  that  one  should  make  Kalidasa  a  resident  of 
Ujjayini  and  yet  make  him  attached  to  the  court  of 

,  p.  55, 



Candragupta  II.  KaufiambI,  which  stood  on  the  high 
road  to  UjjayinI  and  North  India,  had  the  Asoka  pillar 
on  which  there  is  inscribed  an  inscription  of  Samudra- 
gupta  and  it  has  been  argued  that  Kausamb!  also 
formed  his  temporary  place  of  residence.  Candra- 
gupta II  destroyed  the  Saka  Satrapy  by  first  dethroning 
and  then  executing  Rudrasena.  Though  he  was  tole- 
rant of  Buddhism  and  Jainism  he  was  an  orthodox 
Hindu  and  probably  a  Vaisnava.  From  Fa  Hien's 
accounts  (405-411  A.D.)  we  find  that  people  were 
enjoying  good  government  and  abundant  prosperity  at 
the  time  of  Vikramaditya. 

Still  then  there  were  monasteries  in  Pataliputra 
whereabout  six  to  seven  hundred  monks  resided,  and  Fa 
Hien  spent  three  years  there  studying  Sanskrit.  At  his 
time  "charitable  institutions,  were  numerous.  Rest 
houses  for  travellers  were  provided  on  the  highways 
and  the  capital  possessed  an  excellent  free  hospital 
endowed  by  benevolent  and  educated  citizens — hither 
come  all  poor  helpless  patients  suffering  from  all  kinds 
of  infirmities.  They  are  well  taken  care  of  and  a 
doctor  attends  them.  Food  and  medicine  are  supplied 
according  to  their  wants  and  thus  they  are  made  quite 
comfortable  and  when  they  are  well  they  may  go 
away."1  In  describing  the  state  of  the  country  Fa 
Hien  speaks  of  the  lenience  of  the  criminal  law.  He 
further  says  :  "throughout  the  country  no  one  kills 
any  living  thing,  or  drinks  wine  or  eats  onions  or 
garlic.  They  do  not  keep  pigs  or  fowls,  there  are  no 
dealings  in  cattle,  no  butchers'  shops  or  distilleries  in 
the  market  places.  Only  the  candalas,  hunters  and 
fishermen  lived  a  different  way  of  life.  The  only  source 
of  revenue  was  rent  on  crown  lands.'2-2-  Fa  Hien  never 

gupta II. 

Fa  Hien 'B 
the  condi- 
tion of  the 

Smith '•  Early  History  of  India,  pp.  296-296. 


speaks  of  brigands  or  thieves.     At  the  death  of  Candra- 

gupta,  Kumaragupta  I  ascended  the  throne  in  413  A.D. 

It  will  be  wrong  to  suppose  that    Saivism    spread 

from  the  South  to  the  North  for  even  Kadphises  II,  the 

Kusana  conqueror,  was  an  worshipper  of   Siva  and  put 

the  image  of  Siva  on  his  coins   and  during   the  whole" 

period  when  Buddhism  acquired  ascendency   in  India, 

Literature    worship  of   Hindu  gods  had  continued  unabated.     The 

of  the  time.  .  ° 

only  distinctly  Buddhist  coins  were  those  that 
were  struck  by  Kaniska  but  the  next  king  Vasudeva 
had  been  a  Hindu,  cis  has  already  been  mentioned,  and 
the  Saka  Satraps  were  also  Hindus.  The  Pali  language 
of  the  Buddhists  were  reserved  only  for  Buddhist  reli- 
gious works.  No  kavya  or  drama  were  written  in  Pali 
and  after  A3oka  it  was  seldom  used  as  the  language  of 
inscriptions  and  even  the  language  of  Asoka's  inscrip- 
tions was  not  Pali.  Though  we  are  unable  to  place 
Kalidasa  in  the  Gupta  period  there  was  undoubtedly  a 
great  enlightenment  of  culture  during  the  Gupta  period 
which  went  on  till  the  llth  or  the  12th  century.  We 
have  not  only  at  this  time  Vatsabhatti  and  Harisena 
but  a  galaxy  of  other  writers.  The  panegyrics  of  both 
Harisena  and  Vatsabhatti  illustrate  the  highest  style  that 
Sanskrit  had  attained  at  this  period.  Bharavi  also 
probably  lived  in  the  5th  century  and  Bhat^i  also  in  all 
probability  lived  somewhere  during  the  5th  or  the  6th 
century.  It  has  been  suggested  that  Sudraka  may  also 
have  lived  at  this  time,  but  we  really  know  very  little 
about  Sudraka.  Aryabhata,{the  celebrated  astronomer, 
also  probably  lived  towards  the  end  of  the  5th  or  the 
middle  of  the  6th  century.  The  laws  of  Manu  as  we 
find  it  and  also  of  Yajnavalkya  probably  belong  to 
this  age.  But  as  regards  the  poets,  it  will  be-  rash  to 
say  that  they  were  invariably  attached  to  courts  of 
kings.  They  probably  lived  well  to  be  able,  to  turn  to 



their  vocation  of  writing  poetry,  but  it  may  be  supposed 
that  they  had  always  some  patrons  among  the  rich 

Art  and  architecture,  both   Buddhist  and   Brahmi- 

nical,  flourished  during  the  5th  and  the  6th  century 

and  though  by  the  ravages  of  Moslem   army  almost 

every  Hindu  building  was  pulled  to  pieces  and  all  large 

edifices  of  the  Gupta  age  had  been  destroyed,  yet  recent 

researches  have  discovered  for  us   a  few  specimens  of 

architectural  compositions  of  a  considerable  skill  in  out 

of  the  way  places.     The  allied  art  of  sculpture  attained 

a  degree  of  perfection,  the  value   of  which  is    being 

recently  recognised.     Painting  as   exemplified   by  the 

frescoes  of  Ajanta  and  the  cognate  works  of    Sigiria  in 

Ceylon  (479-97)  are  so  many  best  examples  of  Indian 

art.     Colonisation  of   the   Malayan   ATchipelago,   Java 

and  Sumatra  had  begun  probably  at  least  in  the  early 

centuries  of  the  Christian  era  and-  Indian   civilisation, 

particularly  Brahminic,  had  already  been  established  in 

the  Archipelago  by  401  A. D.     By   the  middle  of  the 

7th   century,     according    to    the    report    of    I-Tsing, 

Buddhism  was  in  a  flourishing  condition  in   the  island 

of  Sumatra  and  it  grew  side  by   side   with  the  Hindu 

culture.     The  study  of  Sanskrit  was   so  much   current 

there  that  I-Tsing  spent  about  6  months   in  order  to 

acquaint  himself  with  Sanskrit  grammar.     The  earliest 

Sanskrit  inscriptions,    however,    are  found   in  Borneo 

and   during   the  4th   century   A.D.  Borneo   was  being 

ruled  by  Hindu  kings,  such  as   A^vavarman,   Mulavar- 

man,  etc.     Already   in  the   5th    century    we  hear    of 

Purnavarman   in   Western   Java   and  the   worship  of 

Visnu  and  Siva  was  prevalent  in  those  parts.  Mahayana 

forms  of  Buddhism  also  flourished  in   the  country  in 

the  8th  and   9th   centuries.    In    India    we    find    the 

Vaisnava  and  the  Saiva  worship  flourish  side  by  side 

Gupta  civi- 
lisation and 
by  Indians 
during  the 
early     cen- 
turies    of 
the   Chris- 
tian     era. 



with  China 
daring   the 

ValabbI  and 
the  centres 
of  learning 
from  the 
5th    to  the 
15th     cen- 

with  Buddhism.  But  the  golden  age  of  the  Guptas 
lasted  for^t  century  and  a  quarter  (330-455).  Skanda- 
gupta  came  to  the  throne  in  455  A.D.  He  successfully 
resisted  thePusyamitras  from  the  South  and  drove  away 
the  Huns.  But  in  the  second  invasion  of  the  Huns  he 
was  defeated,  as  we  know  from  an  inscription  dated 
458  A.D.  He  appointed  -  Parnadatta  Viceroy  of  the 
West  who  gave  Junagad  or  Girnar  to  his  son.  At 
about  465  and  also  in  470  the  Huns  began  to  pour  in. 
Skandagupta  probably  died  in  480  A.D.  With  his 
death  the  Empire  vanished  but  the  dynasty  remained. 
After  his  death  Puragupta  succeeded  who  reigned  from 
485  to  535  A.D.  The  importance  of  Magadha,  how- 
ever, and  the  University  of  Nalanda  survived  the  down- 
fall of  the  Guptas.  We  have  the  account  of  a  Chinese 
Mission  sent  to  Magadha  in  539  A.D.  for  the  collection 
of  original  Mahayana  texts  and  for  obtaining  services  of 
scholars  capable  of  translating  them  into  Chinese. 
During  the  reign  of  Jlvitagupta  I,  Paramartha  was  sent 
to  China  with  a  large  collection  of  manuscripts.  He 
worked  for  23  years  in  China  and  died  at  the  age  of  70 
in  569.  During  his  reign  Bodhidharma  also  went  to 
China  (502-549). 

In  the  Western  province  of  Malwa  we  find  record  of 
other  kings  such  as  Buddhagupta  and  Bhanugupta. 

Towards  the  close  of  the  5th  century  Bbatarka 
established  himself  at  Valabhi  in  Kathiawad  in  770. 
The  great  Buddhist  scholars,  Gunamati  and  Sthiramati 
resided  in  Valabhi  and  Valabhi  became  a  great  centre 
of  learning.  After  the  overthrow  of  Valabhi  its  place 
was  taken  by  Anhilwara,  which  retained  its  importance 
till  the  15th  century. 

The  Huns,  however,  overthrew  the  Gupta  Empire 
and  became  rulers  of  Malwa  and  Central  India.  But 
Mihirakula  was  defeated  by  a  confederacy  of  kings 



headed  by  Baladitya  and  Yafodharman,  a  Raja  of 
Central  India.  Mihirakula  fled  to  Kashmir.  The 
Kashmirian  king  allowed  him  the  charge  of  a  small 
territory.  Mihirakula  then  rebelled  against  his  bene- 
factor and  killed  his  whole  family.  But  this  Hun 
leader  had  become  a  devotee  of  Siva.  With  the  death 
of  Mihirakula  India  enjoyed  immunity  from  foreign 
attacks  for  a  long  time. 

We  must  now  come  to  Harsa  (606-647).  Harsa 
was  a  great  patron  of  learning  and  Bana  has  given 
some  account  of  him  in  his  Harsacarita.  Harsa' s 
Empire  was  almost  equivalent  to  that  of  Samudragupta. 
Harsa  was  himself  a  great  poet.  He  wrote  three 
dramas,  the  Ratnavatt,  the  Priyadar&ka  and  the  Nag  a- 
nanda.  Candra,  probably  Candragomin,  the  great 
grammarian,  wrote  a  Buddhist  drama  called  Lokananda 
describing  the  story  as  to  how  a  certain  Manicuda  gave 
away  his  wife  and  children  to  a  Brahmin  out  of  genero- 
sity. He  lived  before  650  A.D.  as  he  is  cited  in  the 
Ka£ika  Vrtti.  A  contemporary  of  his,  Candradasa,  had 
dramatised  the  Vessantara  legend.  Whether  Candra 
and  Candragomin  are  identical,  may  be  a  matter  of 
indecisive  controversy.  But  Candra  or  Candraka's 
poems  are  quoted  in  the  Subhasitavali  and  he  was 
admired  by  the  rhetoricians.  Almost  a  contemporary 
of  Harsa  was  Mahendravikramavarman,  son  of 
the  Pallava  king  Simhavikramavarman,  and  he 
also  was  himself  a  king  who  ruled  in  Kafici.  He 
wrote  a  prahasana  (Mattavilasa)  showing  the  same 
technique  as  that  of  Bhasa.  Bana,  we  know^ 
not  only  wrote  the  Harsacarita  and  the  Kddambari, 
but  also  the  Candl-tataka,  the  Mukuta-taditaka 
(a  drama)  and  Pdrvatlpqrinaya  (a  rupaka).  It  is 
doubtful  whether  he  or  Vamana  Bhatta  Bana  was  the 
author  of  the  Sarvacariia-nataka,  The  grecit  dramatist 

The  Huns 
the  Guptas. 
becomes  a 

ment of 
from    the 
7th    to   the 
10th      cen- 


Bhavabhuti  also  flourished  about  700  A.D.  His  three 
plays,  the  M&latimadhava,  the  Uttaracarita  and  the 
Viracarita  are  masterpieces  of  Sanskrit  drama.  Though 
the  exact  date  of  Subandhu,  author  of  the  Vasavadatta, 
cannot  be  determined  yet  as  both  Bana  and  Vamana  of 
the  8th  century  refer  to  him,  he  must  have  flourished  in 
the  6th  or  the  7th  century.  Bhatti  also  probably 
flourished  in  the  6th  or  the  7th  century.  Bhamaha 
was  slightly  junior  to  him.  The  Natyatastra  had  been 
written  probably  in  the  2nd  century  A.D.  The  poet 
Medhavin  and  the  Buddhist  logician  Dharmaklrti,  who 
was  also  a  poet,  flourished  probably  in  the  6th  century 
and  Dandin,  author  of  the  Karyadar£a  and  the  Da^a- 
kwnaracarita  probably  also  flourished  in  the  6th  century. 
Dinnaga,  the  Buddhist  logician,  bad  flourished  in  the 
5th  century  during  which  time  Vatsayana  also  wrote 
his  Bhasya  on  the  Nyayasutra.  The  Sanikhya-karika 
of  Isvarakrsna  was  probably  written  by  the  3rd  century 
A.D.  and  the  Nyayasutras  were  probably  composed 
near  about  that  time  and  the  Vedanta-sutras  of  Badara- 
yana  were  probably  composed  by  the  2nd  century  A.D. 
and  we  have  already  mentioned  Vasuvandhu,  author  of 
the  Abhidharmakosa  and  many  important  Buddhist 
works,  who  lived  in  the  4th  century  and  was 
a  senior  contemporary  of  Samudragupta.  Udbhata 
probably  flourished  in  the  8th  century  and  the 
Dhvanyaloka  was  probably  written  in  the  latter 
half  of  the  9th  century.  Udbhata  was  not  only 
a  rhetorician  but  he  had  also  written  a  Kumara- 
sambhava.  We  have  already  said  that  Vamana 
lived  probably  in  the  8th  century,  but  as  Vamana 
quotes  from  Magha,  Magha  must  have  lived  probably 
in  the  middle  of  the  7th  century.  The  Katika 
commentary  was  written  about  660  A.D.  and  the  Ny&sa 
was  probably  written  between  700  and  750  A,Df 



Rudrata  also  flourished  before  900  and  Abhinavagupta 
who  wrote  his  Locana  on  the  Dhvanyaloka  probably 
about  3  50  years  after,  flourished  in  the  1 1th  century 
and  RajaSekhara  probably  lived  in  the  first  quarter  of 
the  10th  century.  Vigakhadatta,  the  author  of  the 
Mudraraksasa,  probably  lived  in  the  9th  century. 
Bhattanarayana,  the  author  of  the  Benisamhara,  is 
quoted  by  Vamana,  and  must,  therefore,  have  Jived 
before  800  A.D.  If  he  were  one  of  the  Brahmins  who 
were  brought  to  Bengal  from  Kanauj  by  king  AdiSura, 
he  may  have  lived  in  the  7th  century  A.D.  Kumara- 
dasa,  the  author  of  the  Janakiharana,  was  probably  a 
king  of  Ceylon  and  probably  lived  in  the  beginning  of 
the  6th  century.  Mentha  lived  probably  in  the  latter 
part  of  the  6th  century  and  king  Pravarasena,  the 
author  of  the  Setuvandha,  must  have  lived  during  the 
same  time.  The  Kashmirian  author  Bhumaka  who 
wrote  his  Ravanarjuriiya  in  27  cantos,  probably  also 
lived  at  this  time.  Towards  the  close  of  the  9th  century 
we  have  the  Kapphanabhyudaya  based  on  the  tale  of  the 
AvadanaSataka  by  SivasvamI,  one  of  the  few  exceptions 
where  the  Avadana  literature  has  been  utilised.  But 
there  are  some  other  poets  like  Bhattara  Haricandra  or 
Gunadhya  or  Adhyaraja  whose  works  are  not  ;now 

After  Harsa,  the  Empire  was  practically  broken  and 
we  have  a  number  of  kingdoms  in  various  parts  of  the 
country.  China  was  trying  to  assert  suzerainty  in  the 
northern  frontier  and  when  its  power  vanished  in  the 
first  half  of  the  6th  century,  the  domains  of  the  White 
Huns  were  extending  up  to  Gandhara  and  between  563 
and  567  this  country  was  held  by  the  Turks.  In  630 
the  Northern  Turks  were  completely  vanquished  by  the 
Chinese  who  extended  their  domains  to  Turfan  and 
Kucha,  thus  securing  the  northern  road  communication 

and  literary 
contact  with 
the  neigh- 


from  East  to  West.  Gampo,  the  Tibetan  king  (A.U>. 
630)  who  had  become  a  Buddhist,  was  friendly  to  India. 
In  659  China  rose  to  the  height  of  its  power  and  was  in 
possession  of  this  country  upto  Kapi6a.  The  Turks 
were  finally  routed  by  the  Chinese  in  A.D.  744  and 
between  665  and  715,  the  northern  route  from  China  to 
India  between  the  Xaxartes  and  the  Indus  was  closed 
and  the  southern  route  through  Kashgar  was  closed  by 
the  Tibetans  and  the  road  over  the  Hindukush  was 
closed  by  the  Arabs  with  the  rise  of  Islam.  But  again 
by  719  the  Chinese  regained  influence  on  the  border  of 
India.  Buddhism  developed  in  Tibet  as  against  the 
indigenous  Bon  religion.  The  Indian  sages,  Santara- 
k$ita  and  Padmasarmbhava,  were  invited  to  Tibet. 
Contact  between  politics  of  India  and  that  of  China 
had  ceased  in  .  the  8th  century  owing  to  the  growth  of 
the. Tibetan  power.  In  the  7th  century,  the  Tantrik 
form  of  the  Mahay  an  a,  so  closely  allied  to  the  Tantrik 
worship  in  India,  had  established  itself  in  Nepal. 
Nepal  was  conqured  by  the  Gurkhas  of  the  Hindu  faith 
and  there  has  been  a  gradual  disintegration  of  Buddhism 
from  that  time.  Kashmir  was  being  ruled  by  Hindu 
kings  and  in  the  8th  century  we  had  Candrapi<Ja, 
Muktapida  and  Jayapida,  and  in  the  9th  century  there 
were  the  kings  Avantivarman  and  Sankaravarman  and 
in  the  10th  century  we  have  the  kings  Partha,  Unmatta- 
vanti  and  later  on  Queen  Didda,  all  of  whom  were 
tyrannical.  In  the  llth  century  we  have  king  Kalasa 
and  Har§a,  after  which  .it  was  conquered  by  the 

Political  After  Harsa's   death,    in   the  8th  century  we  have 

i^u»  after0     king  YaSovarman  in  Kanauj,  a  patron  of  Bhavabhuti 

Har?a.          an(j  Vakpatiraja.     At  the  end  of  the  8th  century,  the 

reigning    monarch    Indrayudha    was    dethroned    by 

Dharmapala,  king  of  Bengal,   who  enthroned  a  relative 



of  his,  Cakrayudha,  who  was  again  dethroned  by 
Nagabhata,  the  Gurjara-Pratihara  king.  He  transferred 
bis  capital  to  Kanauj.  In  the  9th  century  we  have 
king  Bhoja.  Bhoja's  son  Mahendrapala  had  for  his 
teacher  the  poet  Rajasekhara.  These  kings  were  all 
Vaisnavas.  After  this  the  power  of  Kanauj  began  to 
wane.  In  the  10th  century  Jayapala,  king  of  the 
Upper  Valley  of  the  Indus  Region  and  most  of  the 
Punjab,  attacked  King  Sabuktagln  and  in  the  subsequent 
battles  that  followed  was  worsted  and  committed  suicide. 
In  Kanauj,  king  Rajyapala  was  defeated  by  the  Moslems. 
With  the  disappearance  of  the  Gurjara-Pratihara 
dynasty  of  Kanauj,  a  Raja  of  the  Gahadwar  clan  named 
Candradeva  established  his  authority  over  Benares  and 
Ayodhya  and  also  over  Delhi.  This  is  known  as  the 
Rathore  dynasty.  In  the  12th  century  we  have  Raja 
Jayacand  under  whose  patronage  Sriharsa,  the  poet, 
wrote  his  great  work  Naisadhacarita. 

It  is  unnecessary  to  dilate  more  upon  the  political 
history  of  India.  Bui  from  the  body  of  the  book  and 
from  what  has  been  said  in  the  Editorial  Notes,  it 
would  appear  that  the  current  opinion  that  the  glorious 
age  of  the  Sanskrit  literature  synchronised  with  the 
glorious  epoch  of  the  Guptas,  is  not  quite  correct.  On 
the  other  band,  great  writers  like  Kalidasa  and  Bhasa 
flourished  before  the  dawn  of  the  Christian  era — at  the 
time  probably  of  the  Mauryas,  and  also  shortly  after  the 
reign  of  Pusyamitra  at  the  time  of  the  great  Hindu 
ascendency ;  the  rise  of  Buddhism  gave  a  great  impetus 
to  the  development  of  sciences  and  particularly  to  philo- 
sophy ;  but  inspite  of  Buddhism,  Hinduism  became 
the  prevailing  religion  of  the  kings  of  India  and  in 
many  cases  the  kings  themselves  turned  to  be 
poets.  Inspite  of  the  colossal  political  changes  and 
turmoils  in  various  parts  of  the  country  and  various 

A  general 
review  of 
the  growth 
of  Sanskrit 


foreign  inroads  and  invasions,  we  had  a  new  era  of 
literary  culture  and  development  till  the  T2th  century, 
when  the  country  was  subjugated  by  the  Mahom- 
medans.  Many  writers  have  suggested  that  it  is 
the  foreign  impact  of  the  Sakas,  the  Hunasf  the 
Turks,  the  Chinese,  the  Tibetans,  that  gave  an 
incentive,  by  the  introduction  of  new  ideas,  to  literary 
development.  But  such  a  view  will  appear  hardly 
to  be  correct,  for  to  no  period  of  the  literary 
development  of  India  can  we  ascribe  any  formative 
influence  due  to  foreign  culture.  The  Hindu  literary 
development  followed  an  insulated  line  of  Trivarga- 
siddhi  all  through  its  course  from  the  12th 
century  onwards.  With  the  occupation  of  Upper 
India  by  the  Moslems  and  their  inroads  into 
Southern  India  and  with  the  growth  of  stringency 
of  the  Smrti  rules  and  the  insulating  tendency, 
the  former  free  spirit  gradually  dwindled  away 
and  we  have  mostly  a  mass  of  stereotyped  litera- 
ture to  which  South  India,  jvhich  was  comparatively 
immune  from  the  Moslem  invasion,  contributed  largely. 
Southern  India  also  distinguished  itself  by  its  contri- 
butions to  Vai§nava  thought  and  the  emotionalistic 
philosophy  which  had  its  repercussions  in  North  India 
also.  Some  of  the  greatest  thinkers  of  India,  like 
Nagarjuna  and  Sankara  and  Ramanuja,  Jayatlrtha  and 
Vyasatlrtha,  hailed  from  the  South  and  deyotionalism, 
which  began  with  the  Arvars  in  the  3rd  or  the  4th 
century  A.D.,  attained  its  eminence  in  the  16th  or  the 
17th  century  along  with  unparalleled  dialectic  skill  of 
Venkata,  Jayatlrtha  and  Vyasatirtba.  Philosophy  in 
the  North  dwindled  into  formalism  of  the  new  school  of 
NySya,  the  rise  of  emotionalism  in  Caitanya  and  his 
followers^  and  the  stringency  of  the  Smyti  in  the 
nivandhas  of  Baghunandana. 


In  attempting  to  give  a  perspective  of  the  growth 
and  development  of  Sanskrit  literary  culture  from  the  appearance 
racial,  religious,  social,  political  and  environmental  Jj 
backgrounds,  we  have  omitted  one  fact  of  supreme 
importance,  viz.,  the  rise  of  geniuses,  which  is  almost 
wholly  unaccountable  by  any  observable  data,  and  though 
poets  of  mediocre  talents  may  maintain  the  literary  flow 
yet  in  the  field  of  literature  as  also  in  politics  it  is 
the  great  geniuses  that  stand  as  great  monuments  of  the 
advancement  of  thought  and  action.  No  amount  of 
discussion  or  analysis  of  environmental  conditions  can 
explain  this  freak  of  Nature  just  as  in  the  field  of 
Biology  the  problem  of  accidental  variation  cannot  be 
explained.  Why  a  Sudraka,  a  Bhasa4  a  Kalidasa, 
a  Bhavabhuti  or  a  Bana  lifted  up  his  head  at  parti- 
cular epochs  of  Indian  history,  will  for  ever  remain 
unexplained.  Kaja^ekhara  regards  poetic  genius  as 
being  of  a  two-fold  character,  creative  and  appreciative. 
He  alone  is  a  poet  to  whom  any  and  every  natural  or 
social  surrounding  provokes  his  creative  activity  to 
spontaneous  flow  of  literary  creation.  This  creative 
function  may  manifest  itself  through  properly  arranged 
words  in  rhyme  or  rhythm  in  the  appreciation  of 
literary  art  and  also  in  the  reproduction  of  emotions 
through  histrionic  functions.  This  individuality  of 
genius  in  a  way  prevents  the  determination  of  great 
works  of  literary  art  as  being  the  causal  functions  of 
historical  conditions. 

But  though  the  consensus  of  opinion  among  the 

rhetoricians  point  to  the  view  that  the  mark  of  true  of  poets.  ** 
poetry  is  the  creation  of  sentiments,  yet  Baja^ekhara 
and  others  regard  wide  experience  as  an  essential 
characteristic  of  a  good  poet.  A  poet's  words  should 
have  a  universality  of  application  and  the  manner  of 
his  delivery  should  be  such  that  his  failures  should  be 


unnoticeable.  Raja^ekhara  further  maintains  that 
though  genius  is  of  supreme  importance,  yet  learning 
is  also  essential.  He  distinguishes  two  types  of 
poets,  the  Sastra-kavi,  who  depicts  sentiments 
and  the  kavya-kavi  who  by  his  mode  of  delivery  softens 
difficult  ideas  and  thoughts.  Both  have  their 
place  in  literature.  Both  reveal  two  tendencies 
which  are  complementary  to  each  other.  The  accept- 
ance of  learning  within  the  category  of  the  essential 
qualities  that  go  to  make  poetry,  has  well-established 
itself  not  only  in  the  time  of  Raja^ekhara  but  long 
before  him  in  the  time  of  Bhatti  and  probably  much 
earlier  than  him.  Bhatti  takes  pride  in  thinking  that 
his  poems  would  not  be  intelligible  to  people  who  are 
not  scholars.  This  wrong  perspective  arose  probably 
from  the  fact  that  the  grammatical  and  lexico- 
graphical sciences  as  well  as  the  philosophical  disci- 
pline had  attained  a  high  water-mark  of  respect  with 
the  learned  people  who  alone  could  be  the  judges  of 
poetry.  This  view,  however,  was  riot  universal ;  for  as 
has  elsewhere  been  noted,  Bhamaha  urges  that  kdvya 
should  be  written  in  such  a  manner  as  to  be  intelligible 
even  to  those  who  have  no  learning  or  general 

literary  We  have  seen   that   Sanskrit   had    become  almost 

standard*  absolutely  stereotyped  by  the  middle  of  the  2nd  century 
g"uage.n  B.C. ;  we  have  also  seen  that  the  Prakrt,  as  we  find  in 
literature  in  spite  of  their  names  as  Magadhi,  Saura- 
sen!  and  Mahara^ri,  was  not  really  the  spoken  language 
of  those  parts  of  the  country.  What  we  have  are  the 
standardised  artificial  forms  of  Prakrt  which  were  used 
for  the  purpose  of  literature.  It  is  doubtful^  to  what 
extent  one  can  regard  the  Prakrt  of  the  A6okan  inscrip- 
tions to  be  the  spoken  dialect  of  any  part  of  the  country, 
though  it  has  been  held  by  many  scholars  that  the 


Eastern  dialect  was  the  lingua  franca  of  the  whole 
Empire  and  we  assented  to  this  view  in  the  Preface. 
The  variations  found  in  the  Girnar,  the  Kalinga  and 
the  Siddapur  edicts  would  raise  many  problems  of  con- 
siderable difficulty. 

Another  important  question  that  may  arise   particu- 
larly  in  connection  with  the  drama  and  the  prose  litera-     spoken 


ture,  is  the  question  as  to  whether  Sanskrit  was  the 
spoken  language  at  any  time.  In  our  Preface  we 
pointed  out  that  neither  Samskrta  nor  Prakrta  was 
regarded  as  the  name  of  speech  so  far  as  it  can  be 
traced  from  the  evidences  of  earlier  Sanskrit  literature. 
Panini  distinguishes  between  the  Vedic  and  the 
Paninian  language,  as  Vaidika  and  Bhasa  (spoken 
language).  Patanjali  in  his  Bhasija  says  that  the 
object  of  grammar  is  to  supply  rules  of  control  for 
current  speech  (laukika  in  the  sense  of  being  known  to 
the  common  people,  or  as  having  sprung  from  the 
common  people. Y  But  why  should  then  there  be  at  all 
rules  for  the  control  of  speech  ?  The  answer  is  :  one, 
for  the  preservation  of  the  integrity  of  the  Vedas  ;2  and 
two,  for  making  proper  transformations  of  suffixes  from 
the  forms  given  in  the  Samhitas  for  practical  sacrificial 
use  ;  and  three,  in  pursuance  of  the  general  duty  for  all 
Brahmins  to  study  the  Vedas  of  which  the  chief  acces- 
sory is  grammar ;  four,  grammar  is  the  shortest 
route  for  the  study  of  correct  words  ;  five,  for  arriving 
at  certainty  of  meaning  and  for  laying  proper  accents  on 
words.  In  addition  to  this,  Patanjali  adds  some  supple- 

1  lobe  vidita  iti  lokasarvalok&tthaft  iti  thafl  ! 
athava  bhav&rthe  adhyatm&ditvat  thaft  ] 

evarp  vede  bhava  vaidikah  \  MahSbha$ya— Paspad&hniks. 

2  There  may  be  forms  in  the  Vedas  which  are    Dot    found  in    the   current 
speech  and  one  who  is  not  versed  in  grammar  might  easily  be  led  to  think  that 
the  Vedic  form  is  erroneous. 

p— 1343B 


mentary  reasons.  These  are  as  follows  : — the  Asuras 
who  imitated  the  Brahmins  in  performing  the  sacrifices 
often  misused  the  words  or  misplaced  the  accents. 
Thus,  instead  of  putting  the  pluta  accent  on  he  and 
pronouncing  the  word  arayah  after  it,  they  used  the 
words  helaya,  helaya,  and  were  defeated  for  the  reason 
that  they  could  not  get  the  benefit  of  the  sacrifice  for 
victory  ;  for  this  reason,  a  Brahmin  should  not  mispro- 
nounce the  words  like  the  mlecchas.  A  wrong  word  or 
a  wrong  accent  fails  to  denote  the  proper  meaning.  So 
to  safeguard  oneself  from  wrong  usage  one  should  study 
grammar.  The  study  of  grammar  is  also  necessary  for 
the  comprehension  of  proper  meaning.  There  are 
more  wrong  words  and  accents  in  currency  than  proper 
words  and  accents,  for  in  place  of  one  proper  word  or 
accent  there  may  be  many  wrong  words  and  accents 
and  only  the  man  who  knows  grammar  can  distinguish 
between  the  right  and  the  wrong  word.  Here 
we  find  the  purificatory  influence  of  grammar.  More- 
over, rules  of  decorum  require  that  the  pluta  accent 
should  be  given  in  offering  salutations  to  respected 
persons,  whereas  in  greeting  a  woman  or  a  person 
coming  from  a  distant  place,  one  should  omit  the  pluta 
accent.  None  but  one  versed  in  grammar  can  distin- 
guish these.  People  often  think  that  the  Vedic  words 
may  be  known  from  the  Vedas  and  the  current  words 
from  current  speech,  but  the  above  discourse  will  show 
that  there  is  a  necessity  for  studying  grammar  for  the 
acquirement  in  both. 

A  review  of  the  above  discourse  reveals  to  us  the 
following  uncontestable  facts — viz.,  that  even  in 
the  time  of  Patanjali  the  Paninian  language  was  used 
in  current  speech  though  many  mispronounced  and  mis- 
accented  or  corrupt  or  foreign  words  had  crept  into  the 
current  speech.  The  current  speech  was  thus  not 


exactly  what   we  call  Paninian   Sanskrit  but  Sanskrit 
in   which   there   is   a  very  large  admixture  of  corrupt 
words,       for     Patanjali     expressly     says    bhuyamsah 
apasavdah,  and   a    codified    grammar   was    needed  for 
sieving  out  the   corrupt   words   though   it    cannot  be 
denied  that  inspite  of  the   sieving  some  popular    words 
of  foreign  or  aboriginal  character    were   accepted   as 
genuine  Sanskrit  words.  The  word  titan  occurring  in  a 
verse  quoted  by  Patanjali  is  an  instance  of  it.     We  also 
find  that  by  Patanjali's   time  the  tradition  was  that  the 
Asuras  had   accepted  Brahmiuic   forms  of  sacrifice  but 
they  could  not   attain  the   fruits  of  them  as  they  could 
not  properly  pronounce   the  Sanskrit  words.     The  rules 
of  accent  prescribed  for  greeting  persons  also  show  that 
Sanskrit   as   mixed   up  with    corrupt  words  was  in  use 
among   the  people.     Those,  however,  who  achieved  the 
discipline  of  a  grammatical   study   used   the    words  re- 
cognised as  chaste  by   the  grammatical  tradition.     The 
mixed  language  as  used  by  common    folk  was    not  un- 
intelligible to  the  learned  nor  the  speech  of  the  learned 
unintelligible  to  the   common    people.     A  parallel  may 
be  drawn  from   the   existing   literary   Bengali  language 
and  the  spoken  language  varying  from  district  to  district 
with    regard    to   words     and   accents.     The    learned 
Bengalees  may   not  even   understand  properly  in  some 
cases  the   dialectical    folk  languages  of  another  locality. 
Thus  the  Chittagong  dialect   of  Bengali   would    hardly 
be  intelligible  to   a  learned  Bengalee   of   Calcutta.     A 
learned   Chitlagong-man  may  talk  in  standard  Bengali 
with  other  learned  men   but  may  at  the  same  time  use 
his  own  dialect  in  talking  with  the    common  people  of 
his  native  place  or  he  may  even  intersperse  Chittagong 
words  with  the  words  of  standard   Bengali.     The  stan- 
dardisation of   accent  is     still  more   difficult  to     be 


Dr.  Hannes  Skold  in  his  work  on  the  Nirukta  says 
that  the  derivations  suggested  by  Yaska  are  only  intelli- 
gible if  we  assume  that  he  was  conversant  with  some 
kind  of  Middle  Indian  Prakrt  speech.  Prof.  Liiders 
says  that  the  language  of  Asoka's  Chancery  was 
a  high  language  but  the  actual  spoken  speech  had 
almost  advanced  to  a  stage  of  the  literary  Prakrts. 
Keith  holds  that  Yaska  spoke  Sanskrit  as  he  wrote  it 
and  the  officials  of  Asoka  spoke  in  the  language  similar 
to  what  they  wrote,  while  the  lower  classes  of  the  people 
spoke  in  dialects  which  had  undergone  much  phonetical 
transformation.  From  Patafljali's  statement  referred  to 
above  we  can  gather  that  the  upper  classes  who  were 
conversant  with  grammar  spoke  the  chaster  speech  but 
as  we  go  down  the  stratum  the  language  was  of  a 
corrupt  nature.  The  alien  people  on  whom  the  Aryans 
had  imposed  their  language  could  not  also  speak  it 
correctly.  The  directions  of  royal  edicts  as  found  in 
the  Arthatastra,  Chapter  31,  would  lead  to  the  presump- 
tion that  the  edicts  were  drafted  in  Sanskrit.  A3oka 
was  probably  the  first  to  issue  edicts  in  some  form  of 
Prakrt  as  found  in  the  inscriptions.  It  is  also  diffi- 
cult to  assert  that  A^oka's  inscriptions  were  written  in 
accordance  with  the  speech  of  the  countries  in  which  the 
edicts  appeared;  for,  though  the  language  and  the 
grammar  of  the  edicts  have  many  differences  in  different 
localities  yet  these  would  be  too  small  in  comparison 
with  the  actual  dialectical  varieties  that  might  have 
existed  between  Mysore  and  Guzerat.  We  think  there- 
fore that  though  the  Prakrt  speech  was  current  in 
A4oka's  time  and  even  in  earlier  times  among  the 
common  people,  among  the  higher  classes  Sanskrit  was 
used  in  common  speech.  But  the  tatsama  words  flowed 
continuously  into  the  current  speech. 



The  study  of  Sanskrit  kavyas  and  their  appreciation 
have  their  own  difficulties.     Excepting  in  the  case  of  a 
few  writers  of  elegance  like  Kalidasa,  Bhasa  or  Sudraka, 
most  of  the   Sanskrit   works   in   poetry   are  not  easily 
accessible   to   those   who   have   no   proficiency    in  the 
language  and  even  for  the  proficient  it  is  not  always  an 
easy  reading   and   at   times  one  cannot  make  much  of 
them   without   commentaries.     The   study  of  Sanskrit 
kavyas,  therefore,  cannot  be  an  easy  pastime  and  cannot 
always  be  enjoyed  as  recreation  in  leisure  hours.    t€  The 
great    poets  of  India,  -'     as  Keith  says,  "  wrote  for 
audiences  of  experts ;  they  were  masters  of  the  learning 
of  their    day,    long  trained  in    the  use  of  language   and 
they    aimed   to    please   by    subtlety,  not  simplicity  of 
effect.      They    had    at     their    disposal     a   singularly 
beautiful  speech  and     they    commanded    elaborate   and 
most   effective    metres."      Under  the   circumstances, 
though  the   kavya  literature  contains  within  it  some 
of  the  great  master-pieces  of  poetical  works,   it  cannot 
hope  to  become  popular    with   those   who  have   a  mere 
lisping  knowledge  of  Sanskrit  or   who  are  unwilling  to 
take   the   trouble     of   undertaking    a   difficult   journey 
through  the  intricacies  of  the  language.     To  the  trained 
ear  the  music  of  the  poetry  is  so  enthrallingly    bewitch- 
ing that  the  mere   recitation  of  the   verses  in  the  proper 
manner  produces  a  sense  of    exhilaration.     I  have  seen 
that  even  in  Europe,  when  I  recited  the  verses,   persons 
who  had  but   little  acquaintance    with    Sanskrit,    had 
been  tremendously  affected   by  the  sonorous  rhythm  of 
the  Sanskrit    verses  and   large   audiences    almost  felt 
themselves  spell-bound  by   the  mystery  of    the  music. 
Another   difficulty  regarding   Sanskrit  poetry  is    that, 
more  than  the  poetry  in  other  languages,  the  charm  of 
Sanskrit  poetry  in  untranslatable,  as  a  large  part   of 
it  is  derived  from  the  rhythm  and %  the  cadence.. 

of  appreciat- 
ing Sanskrit 


Keith  says  :  "German  poets  like  Kiickert  can  indeed 
base  excellent  work  on  Sanskrit  originals,  but  the 
effects  produced  are  achieved  by  wholly  different  means, 
while  English  efforts  at  verse  translations  fall  invariably 
below  a  tolerable  mediocrity,  their  diffuse  tepidity 
contrasting  painfully  with  the  brilliant  condensation  of 
style,  the  elegance  of  metre  and  the  close  adaptation  of 
sound  to  sense  of  the  originals." 

Not  a  less  attractive  part  of  Sanskrit  poetry  is  its 
Sanskrit  charming  descriptions  of  natural  scenes  and  the 
*°*  **'  beauties  of  the  seasons.  As  we  go  from  poet  to  poet 
we  often  notice  a  change  of  outlook  and  perspective 
which  cannot  but  leave  a  bright  and  exhilarating  effect 
on  our  imagination.  Thus,  throughout  the  descrip- 
tions of  natural  scenes  and  objects  as  depicted  by 
Kalidasa,  we  find  that  the  whole  Nature  is  a  replica  of 
the  human  world — the  same  feelings  and  emotions,  the 
same  passions  and  sorrows,  the  same  feelings  of 
tenderness,  love,  affection  and  friendship  that  are  found 
to  reign  in  the  human  mind,  are  also  revealed  in  the 
same  manner  for  Kalidasa  in  and  through  all  the  objects 
of  Nature.  The  Yaksa  in  the  Meghaduta  employs  the 
cloud  as  the  messenger  to  his  love-lorn  lady  in  the 
Alakapuri,  and  the  cloud  itself  is  made  to  behave  as 
the  friend,  benefactor  and  lover  of  the  flowers  and 
rivers,  mountains  and  forests,  over  which  it  may  pass 
dropping  showers  of  rain.  Nature  may  be  dumb  but 
yet  she  understands  the  sorrows  of  men  and  is  friendly 
to  them.  In  addressing  the  clouds  he  says  :  "  Though 
you  do  not  give  any  verbal  response  to  my  words  yet 
I  cannot  think  that  you  will  not  render  me  a  friendly 
turn,  for  even  in  your  silence  you  supply  water  to  the 
catafea."  In  the  last  verse  of  the  Meg haduta,  Kalidasa 
says  addressing  the  cloud  :  "  Oh  Cloud  !  may  you  not 
be  separated  from  the  lightning  who  is  your  wife. 



Either  for  the  sake  of  friendship  or  for  the  sake  of 
kindness  or  by  finding  me  aggrieved,  you  may  serve  me 
as  a  messenger  and  after  that  you  may  go  wherever  you 
please."  The  seasons  appeared  to  Kalidasa  almost 
as  living  beings.  They  are  not  merely  the  friends  of 
man  but  throughout  .Nature  the  life  and  personality  of 
the  seasons  are  realised  in  joy  and  love,  and  in  Kali- 
dasa's  descriptions  this  aspect  of  Nature  becomes 
extremely  vivid.  • 

But  when  Valmiki  looks  at  Nature,  his  general 
emphasis  is  on  the  realistic  aspect  of  Nature.  The 
aspect  of  its  utility  to  man  is  thin  and  shadowy.  But 
as  we  proceed  onwards  we  find  that  gradually  Nature 
begins  to  rise  to  the  human  level  and  often  its 
practical  utility  to  man  is  emphasised,  e.g.,  in  the 
Rtusamhdra  of  Kalidasa.  The  emphasis  on  the  prag- 
matic aspect  has  indeed  a  deleterious  effect  on  the 
nature  of  poetry,  but  oftentimes  in  the  descriptions  of 
the  poets  the  pragmatic  aspect  is  thinned  away  and 
human  diameters  are  ascribed  to  Nature,  or  Nature 
has  been  enlivened  with  the  fulness  of  human  conscious- 
ness. Starting  from  realism  we  often  pass  into  idealism 
as  self-reflection.  In  the  Rcimayana,  for  example, 
Valmiki  in  describing  the  situation  of  Rama  in  his 
separation  from  Sita  and  in  contrasting  it  with  the  state 
of  Sugriva,  describes  the  sorrow  of  Rama.  Thus  he 
says  :  "1  am  without  my  wife  and  my  throne  and  am 
being  broken  into  pieces  like  the  bank  of  a  river.  As 
the  rains  make  all  places  extremely  impassable,  so  my 
sorrow  is  broad  and  wide  and  it  seems  to  me  as  if  I 
can  never  ford  over  to  my  great  enemy  Ravana."  But 
Valmiki  here  does  not  describe  what  Rama  would  have 
done  if  his  wife  was  near  by.  He  had  seen  the 
lightning  by  the  side  of  the  dark  cloud  and  he  was  at 
once  reminded  as  to  how  Sita  might  have  been  lying 


in  the  lap  of  Eavana.  Looking  at  the  new  showers  of 
rain  he  is  reminded  of  the  falling  tears  of  Slta. 
Nature  thus  reminds  the  human  situation  and  events 
but  there  is  no  tinge  of  any  pragmatic  perspective 
regarding  the  rains.  But  human  comparisons  are 
quite  common.  Thus  in  describing  the  hills  he  speaks 
of  them  as  if  they  were  wearing  garments  of  black 
deer-skin  and  he  compares  the  rains  with  the  holy 
Jihread  and  music  of  the  rains  with  the  chanting  of 
Vedic  hymns.  But  apart  from  such  human  analo- 
gies the  general  tendency  of  Valmiki's  description  is 
realism — descriptions  of  fruits  and  flowers,  of  birds  and 
beasts,  of  muddy  roads  and  moist  winds,  and  so  on. 
Bhavabhuti  seems  to  have  followed  this  realistic  ten- 
dency of  Valmlki  in  his  descriptions  of  Nature,  which 
is  sometimes  sublime  and  sombre.  Such  a  realistic 
tendency  can  be  found  in  other  poets  also.  Thus,  the 
poet  Abhinanda  speaks  of  dreadful  darkness  torn  some- 
times into  pieces  by  the  gleaming  lightning  ;  even  the 
tree  before  us  cannot  be  seen  ;  their  existence  can  only  be 
inferred  from  the  collection  of  fire-flies;  the  whole  night 
is  ringing  with  the  humming  of  crickets. 

Thus,  the  different  poets  of  India  had  approached 
Nature  from  diverse  points  of  view,  some  realistic,  some 
pragmatic,  some  idealistic. 

Thus,  in  spite  of  criticisms  that  may  be  levelled 
against  Sanskrit  poetry,  to  a  learned  Sanskritist  who 
is  acquainted  with  the  trailing  history  of  the  allusive 
words  and  its  penumbra,  the  double  meanings  and  the 
associated  myths,  Sanskrit  poetry  with  its  luxurious 
images,  cadence  of  rhyme,  jingling  alliteration  of  word- 
sounds,  creates  a  wonderland  of  magic  and  joy  that 
transports  the  reader  to  a  new  world  of  beauty.  The 
delicate  and  passionate  flickerings  of  love  with  which 
Sanskrit  love  poetry  is  surcharged,  are  as  much  exciting 


to  our  primal  tendencies  as  appealing  to  our  cultured 
tastes.  Though  much  of  Sanskrit  poetry  has  been  lost 
through  the  ravages  of  time,  yet  what  remains  is 
worthy  of  the  pride  and  satisfaction  of  any  great  itation. 
There  is  no  compeer  in  the  world  of  the  Mahabhdrata 
and  the  Ramayana  taken  together,  and  Kalidasa  stands 
supreme  before  our  eyes  as  a  magic-creator  of  beauty 
and  enchantment,  and  Bhavabhuti  as  the  creator  of  the 
sombre  and  the  sublime. 



Even  if  there  is  no  direct  evidence,1  it  would  not  be  entirely 
unjustifiable  to  assume  that  the  Sanskrit  Kavya  literature,  highly 
stylised  though  it  is,  had  its  origin  in  the  two  great  Epics  of 
India.  The  Indian  tradition,  no  doubt,  distinguishes  the 
Itihasa  from  the  Kavya,  but  it  has  always,  not  unjustly,  regarded 
the  Ramayana,  if  not  the  MaMbharata,  as  the  first  of  Kavyas. 

1  This  rapid  survey  is  only  an  attempt  to  give,  from  the  literary  point  of  view  only,  and 
from  direct  reading  of  the  literature  itself,  a  connected  historical  outline  of  a  vast  and 
difficult  subject.  It  does  not  pretend  to  be  exhaustive,  nor  to  supersede  the  excellent  and 
methodical  presentations  of  Moritz  Winternitz  and  Sten  Konow,  with  their  valuable 
bibliographical  material,  as  well  as  the  brilliant  accounts  of  Sylvain  L6vi  and  A.  B.  Keith, 
to  all  of  which,  as  also  to  various  monographs  and  articled  of  individual  scholars,  every 
writer  traversing  the  same  ground  must  acknowledge  his  deep  indebtedness.  But  the  aim  of 
the  present  account  is  not  to  offer  a  mere  antiquarian  or  statistical  essay,  not  to  record  and 
discuss  what  has  been  said  on  Sanskrit  literature  (the  value  of  which,  however,  is  not  and 
cannot  be  ignored),  but  to  give,  as  concisely  as  possible,  a  systematic  and  literary  account 
of  the  literature  itself.  Even  if  strict  chronology  is  not  yet  attainable,  it  should  be  recognised 
that  our  general  knowledge  of  the  subject  is  not  today  so  nebulous  as  to  make  the  application 
of  historical  or  literary  methods  altogether  impossible.  It  is  felt  that  Sanskrit  literature,  as 
literature,  need  no  longer  be  looked  upon  as  a  literary  curiosity,  deserving  merely  a  descriptive, 
erudite,  apologetic  or  condescending  treatment,  but  that  it  ranks  legitimately  as  one  of  the 
great  literatures  of  the  world,  to  the  appreciation  of  which  broader  historical  and  literary 
standards  should  be  applied.  The  bibliographical  references  and  purely  learned  discussions, 
which  are  available  in  their  fulness  elsewhere,  are,  therefore,  reduced  as  much  as  possible  to  a 
minimum,  and  emphasis  has  been  laid  upon  the  literary  aspects  of  the  problems,  which  have, 
so  far,  not  received  adequate  attention.  Tt  is  cot  claimed  that  the  work  is  final  in  thia  respect 
but  it  is  hoped  that  a  beginning  has  been  made.  The  only  apology  that  is  necessary, 
apart  from  the  obvious  one  of  the  writer's  imperfect  knowledge  and  capacity,  is  that  it  is 
written  within  certain  limits  of  time,  which  allowed  less  provision  of  material  than  what 
could  have  been  accomplished  by  longer  preparation,  and  within  certain  limits  of  space, 
which  did  not  permit  him  to  enter  fully  into  some  of  the  difficult,  but  interesting, 


The  Mahabharata  certainly  afforded,  by  its  diversified  content, 
inexhaustible  legendary  and  didactic  material  to  later  Kavya 
poets;  but  from  the  point  of  view  of  form,  it  is  simpler  and  less 
polished,  and  conforms  more  to  the  epic  standard.  It  could  not, 
in  spite  of  later  addition  and  elaboration,  afford  such  an  excellent 
model  for  the  factitious  Kavya  as  the  more  balanced  and  poetical 
Ramayana  did.  The  unity  of  treatment,  elegancies  of  style 
and  delicate  verse-technique,  which  distinguish  the  Ramayana, 
may  not  be  studied,  but  they  are  none  the  less  skilful  and 
effective.  It  is  probable  that  some  part  of  its  stylistic  elaboration 
came  into  existence  in  later  times,  but  there  is  nothing  to  show 
that  most  of  these  refinements  did  not  belong  to  the  poem  itself, 
or  to  a  date  earlier  than  that  of  the  Kavya  literature,  which 
imitates  and  improves  upon  them.  The  literary  standard  and 
atmosphere  of  the  epic  are  indeed  different  from  those  of  Amaru 
and  Kalidasa,  but  the  poem,  as  a  whole,  grounded  like  the 
Mahabharata  as  it  is  in  the  heroic  epos,  is  undoubtedly  the 
product  of  a  much  more  developed  artistic  sense.1  The  pedestrian 
naivete  of  the  mere  epic  narrative  is  often  lifted  to  the  attractive 
refinement  of  greater  art ;  and  the  general  tone  of  seriousness 
and  gravity  is  often  relieved  by  picturesque  descriptions  of  the 
rainy  season  and  autumn,  of  mountains,  rivers  and  forests,  as 
well  as  by  sentimental  and  erotic  passages  and  by  the  employ- 
ment of  metaphors  and  similes  of  beauty.  If  in  the  Kavya 
greater  importance  is  attached  to  the  form,  the  Ramayana  can 
in  a  very  real  sense  be  called  the  first  Kavya;  and  the  literary 
embellishment  that  we  find  in  it  in  the  skilled  use  of  language, 
metre  and  poetic  figures  is  not  wholly  adventitious  but  forms  an 
integral  part  of  its  poetic  expression,  which  anticipates  the 
more  conscious  ornamentation  and  finish  of  the  later  Kavya. 

1  H.  Jacobi,  Das  Ramayana^  Bonn,  183),  pp.  119-26  and  A.  B.  Keiib,  History  of  Sanskrit 
Literature,  Oxford,  1928  (cited  throughout  below  as  USX),  pp.  42-45,  give  some  instances, 
which  can  be  easily  multiplied,  of  the  formal  excellences  of  the  Rawayana,  which  foreshadow 
the  Kavya.  The  Epics  also  show  the  transformation  of  the  Vedic  Anustubh  into  the  Classical 
Sloka,  and  of  the  Vedio  Trisfcubh-Jagati  into  a  variety  of  lyrical  measures  which  are  furtber 
developed  in  the  Kavya. 


There  is  no  need,  therefore,  to  trace  back  the  origin  of  the 
Kavya  literature  in  the  far-off  Vedic  hymns,  and  find  its 
prototype  in  the  Narasamsa  and  Danastuti  panegyrics,  in  the 
semi-dramatic  and  impassioned  Samvada-Akhyanas,  in  the 
heightening  of  style  found  in  the  glowing  descriptions  of  deities 
like  Usas,  or  in  the  legends  and  gnomic  stanzas  preserved  in 
the  Brahmanas.  The  tradition  of  a  non-religious  literature  was 
already  there  from  remote  antiquity,  surviving  through  long 
centuries  as  a  strong  undercurrent  and  occasionally  coming  to 
the  surface  in  the  more  conventional  literature  ;  but  the  imme-^ 
diate  precursor  of  the  Kavya  is  undoubtedly  the  Epics,  which 
themselves  further  develop  these  secular,  and  in  a  sense  popular, 
tendencies  of  the  earlier  Vedic  literature. 

It  is  also  not    necessary  to   seek   the  origin  of  the    Sanskrit 
Kavya  literature  in  the  hypothetical  existence  of  a   prior   Prakrit 
literature,  on  which  it  is  alleged  to  have    modelled    itself.     There 
is  indeed  no    convincing  evidence,  tradition    or  cogent  reason  to 
support   the  theory  that  the  Epics  themselves   or  the  Kavya  were 
originally  composed  in  Prakrit  and  rendered    later   into  Sanskrit. 
The  existence   of  a   Prakrit   period   of   literature   preceding   the 
Sanskrit,  which  such  theories  presuppose,  is  inferred  mainly  from 
the  epigraphical    use    of    Prakrit    in    the    period    preceding    the 
Christian  era  ;  but  it  cannot  be  substantiated  by  the  adducing  of  any 
evidence  of  value  regarding  the  existence  of  actual  Prakrit   works 
in  this  period.     Even  assuming  that  a  Prakrit  literature   existed, 
the  co-existence   of   a   Sanskrit    literature  in   some  form    is  not 
thereby   excluded ;  nor  does  it  necessarily   follow  that  the  one 
was   derived   from   the   other.     It    is   possible     to    assume   the 
existence,  from  the  Vedic  times,   of  a  popular  secular  literature, 
current  in    a   speech   other   than   the    hieratic,    from  which  the 
secular  Vedic  hymns  derived  their  material ;  and  the  tradition  is 
possibly  continued  in  heroic  songs,  lyrical  stanzas,  gnomic   verses 
and  folk-tales,  which  might  have  been  composed  in    Prakrit  ;  but 
the  very  language  and  treatment  of  the  Epics   themselves   show  a 
stage  of   linguistic   and   literary   development,   in   which  a  freer 


and  less  polished,  but  more  practical,  form  of  Sanskrit  than  the 
perfected  speech  of  Panini  was  employed  for  conveying 
a  literature,  not  hieratic,  but  no  less  aristocratic.  The  influence 
of  a  concurrent  popular  Prakrit  literature  may  be  presumed,  but 
the  Epics,  in  form,  substance  and  spirit,  cannot  be  called  popular 
in  the  same  sense ;  they  were  loved  by  the  populace,  but  in  no 
sense  composed  or  inspired  by  them.  They  possess  linguistic 
and  literary  peculiarities  of  their  own,  which  preclude  the  theory 
of  Prakrit  originals,  and  which  must  be  traced  ultimately,  in 
unbroken  tradition,  to  certain  aspects  of  Vedic  language  and 
literature,  There  is,  again,  no  evidence  to  justify  the  high  anti- 
quity claimed  for  the  collection  of  Prakrit  folk-tales  of  Gunadhya, 
which  ifi  now  lost,  or  for  the  Prakrit  lyrics  of  Hala,  which  have 
been  misleadingly  taken  as  the  prototype  of  the  Sanskrit  lyrics. 
Not  only  does  the  Prakrit  of  Hala's  anthology  show  a  fairly  deve- 
loped form  of  the  language,  far  apart  from  the  Prakrits  of  the 
early  inscriptions  and  of  the  dramatic  fragments  of  Agvaghosa, 
but  the  Prakrit  poetry  which  it  typifies  is  as  conventional  as  the 
Sanskrit,  and  is  not  folk-literature  in  its  true  sense.  Both  the 
Mahabharata  and  the  Jatakas,  again,  show  the  currency  of  the 
beast-fable,  but  in  this  sphere  also  we  know  nothing  of  any  early 
Prakrit  achievement.  Nor  can  it  be  shown  that  an  original/ 
Prakrit  drama  was  turned  into  Sanskrit;  and  our  earliest  speci- 
mens of  the  Sanskrit  drama  in  the  A^vaghosa  fragments,  which 
do  not  show  it  in  a  primitive  tir  rudimentary  form,  are  already 
written  in  Sanskrit,  as  well  as  in  Prakrit. 

The  hypothesis  of  an  earlier  Prakrit  literature  started  also 
from  the  supposition  that  Sanskrit  was  little  used  until  it  was 
recovered  and  restored  sometime  after  the  Christian  era.  The 
theory  is  thus  a  revival  in  another  form  of  Max  Miiller's  once 
famous  but  now  discredited  suggestion l  of  the  cessation  of  literary 

1  India:  What  can  it  teach  us  ?  (London,  1882),  p.  281  f.  It  is  mainly  on  the  basis  of 
Fergusson's  theory  of  the  Vikrama  era  that  Max  Muller  connected  his  suggestion  with  the 
legend  of  a  king  Vikraraaditya  of  Ujjayini,  who  was  supposed  to  have  driven  out  the  Sakaa 
from  India  and  founded  the  Vikrama  era  in  544  A.D.,  but  dated  the  era  back  to  57  B.G*  Max 


activity  in  India  until  the  sixth  century  A.D.,  when  a  Sanskrit 
Renaissance  was  supposed  to  have  begun.  At  a  time  when 
scanty  facts  gave  room  for  abundant  fancies,  the  theory  appeared 
plausible  ;  it  was  apparently  justified  by  the  absence  or  paucity 
of  literary  works  before  and  after  the  Christian  era,  as  well  as  by 
the  fact  that  the  incursions  of  Greeks,  Parthians,  Kusanas  and 
Sakas  at  this  time  must  have  affected  the  north-west  of  India. 
But  the  epigraphical  and  literary  researches  of  Biihler,  Kielhorn 
and  Fleet  have  now  confirmed  beyond  doubt  the  indication,  first 
given  by  Lassen,1  regarding  the  development  of  the  Sanskrit 
Kavya-form  in  the  first  few  centuries  of  the  Christian  era,  and 
have  entirely  destroyed  Max  Miiller's  theory  of  a  literary  inter- 
regnum. Biihler 's  detailed  examination2  of  the  evidence  borne 
by  the  early  inscriptions,  ranging  from  the  second  to  the  fifth 

Miillor,  however,  had  the  sagacity  to  perceive  that  Fergusson's  theory  would  at  once  collapse, 
if  any  document  were  found  dated  in  the  Vikraraa  era  before  544  A.D.  The  missing  evidence  is 
now  foundf  and  both  the  assumptions  mentioned  above  are  now  shown  to  be  untenable  (see 
Fleet,  Gupta  Inscriptions,  Introd. ;  also  I  A,  XXX,  pp.  3-4).  The  Vikramaditya  legend  itself  is 
fairly  old.  It  owed  its  currency,  no  doubt,  from  an  ill-authenticated  verse  of  a  late  work, 
which  associates  Dhanvantari,  K?apanaka,  Amarasimha,  Sanku,  Vetalabhat^a,  Ghafcakarpara, 
Kalidasa,  Varahatnihira  and  Vararuci  as  the  nine  gems  of  the  court  of  this  mythical  king. 
While  we  know  for  certain  that  Varahamihira  flourished  in  the  middle  of  tie  sixth  century, 
Vararuci  is  undoubtedly  a  very  old  author  to  whom  a  Kavya  is  ascribed  in  Patafi jali'a 
Mahabhasya',  while  of  the  other  poets,  some  are  mere  names,  and  some,  who  are  by  no  means 
contemporaries,  are  lumped  together,  after  the  manner  of  works  like  Bhoja-prabandha,  which 
makes  Kalidasa,  Bana  and  Bhavabhuti  contemporaries  1  On  this  verse  and  on  Jyotirvidd- 
bharana  (16th  century)  in  which  it  occurs,  see  Weber  iii  ZDMG,  XXII,  1868,  pp.  708  £  :  aUo 
iotrod.  to  Nandargikar's  ed.  of  Raghu-vamsa  for  references  to  works  where  this  verse  is  dis- 
cussed. It  is  remarkable,  however,  that  the  tradition  of  a  great  Vikram&difcya  as  a  patron  of 
the  Kavya  persists  in  literature.  Subandhu  laments  that  after  the  departure  of  Vikramaditya 
there  ia  no  true  appreciator  of  poetry  ;  and  an  early  reference  in  the  same  strain  is  found  in  a 
verse  of  Hftla  (ed.  NSPt  v.  64).  The  Sanskrit  anthologies  assign  some  20  verses  to  Vikrama- 
ditya, and  he  is  associated  with  Bhartrmen^ha ,  Matrgupta  and  Kalidasa  (see  F.  W,  Thomas, 
introd.  to  Kavlndra-vacana  samuccaya,  pp.  105-06  and  references  cited  therein).  There  ia  no 
satisfactory  evidence  to  connect  him  with  the  later  Vikramadityas  of  the  Gupta  dynasty ;  and 
if  the  original  founder  of  the  Vikraraa  era  was  a  Vikramaditya,  all  search  for  him  has,  so  far, 
not  proved  succeasful.  tfor  a  recent  discussion  of  the  question,  see  Edgerton,  introd.  to 
Vikramacarita,  pp.  lviiMx\i. 

1  Laasen,  Indische  Alterthumskundc,  II,  p.  115(J  f. 

*  Die  indiechen  Inschriften  und  das  Alter  der  mdiachen  Kuntspoesie  in  SWAt  1890,  trs, 
I  A,  gtu,p.291. 


century  A.D.,  not  only  proves  the  existence  in  these  centuries  of 
a  highly  elaborate  body  of  Sanskrit  prose  and  verse  in  the  Kavya- 
style,  but  it  also  raises  the  presumption  that  most  of  the  Pra^asti- 
writers  were  acquainted  with  '  some  theory  of  poetic  art/  If 
Max  Miiller  conjectured  a  decline  of  literary  activity  in  the  first 
two  centuries  of  the  Christian  era  on  account  of  the  incursions 
of  the  Sakas,  we  know  now  that  there  is  nothing  to  justify  the 
idea  that  the  Western  Ksatrapas  or  Satraps  of  Saka  origin  were 
great  destroyers.  Their  inscriptions  show  that  they  became 
themselves  rapidly  Indian! sed,  adopted  Indian  names  and  customs, 
patronised  Indian  art  and  religion,  and  adopted,  as  early  as 
150  A. D.,  Sanskrit  as  their  epigraphical  language.  There  is, 
therefore,  no  evidence  for  presuming  a  breach  of  literary 
continuity  from  the  first  to  the  fifth  century  A.D.  If  the  theory 
is  sometimes  revived  by  the  modified  suggestion  that  the  origin 
of  the  Sanskrit  Kavya  is  to  be  ascribed  to  the  ascendancy  of  the 
Sakas  themselves,  the  discovery  and  publication  of  A^vaghosa's 
works  directly  negative  the  idea  by  affording  further  proof  of  an 
earlier  bloom  of  the  Sanskrit  Kavya  literature  in  some  of  its 
important  aspects,  and  perhaps  push  the  period  of  its  origin  much 
further  back.  The  fact  that  a  Buddhist  poet  should,  at  the 
commencement  of  the  Christian  era,  adopt  the  Sanskrit  Kavya- 
style  for  the  avowed  object 1  of  conveying  the  tenets  of  his 
faith,  hitherto  generally  recorded  in  tbe  vernacular,  is  itself  an 
indication  of  its  popularity  and  diffusion;  and  the  relatively 
perfect  form  in  which  the  Kavya  emerges  in  his  writings  pre- 
supposes a  history  behind  it. 

The  history,  unfortunately,  is  hidden  from  us.  We  can, 
however,  surmise  its  existence  in  some  form  in  Panini's  time  in 
the  4th  century  B.C.,2  if  we  consider  that  one  of  the  direct  results 

1  As  he  declares  at  the  close  of  his  Saundarananda  that  his  object  in  adopting  the  Kavya- 
form  is  to  set  forth  the  truth  which  leads  to  salvation  in  an  attractive  garb,  so  that  it  should 
appeal  to  all  men. 

3    Panini's  time  is  uncertain,  but  we  take  here   the  generally   accepted   date,   as  also 
P&taftjali's  accepted  date  in  relation  to  that  of  Pagini. 


of  his  elaborate  grammar,  as  also  its  object,  had  been  the 
standardisation  of  Sanskrit,  as  distinguished  from  the  Vedic 
(Chandas)  and  the  spoken  dialect  (Bhasa).  Although  Panini 
shows  himself  fully  conversant  with  the  earlier  Vedic  literature, 
there  is  no  reason  to  suppose  that  the  Sista  speech  of  his  day 
was  that  of  the  priesthood  alone  ;  his  object  was  not  to  regulate 
the  hieratic  speech  but  the  language  of  polished  expression  in 
general.  Panini's  own  system,  as  well  as  his  citation  of  the 
views  of  different  schools  of  grammar,  shows  that  grammatical 
studies  must  have  been  fairly  well  advanced  in  his  time,  and 
presupposes  the  existence  of  a  respectable  body  of  literature  on 
which  his  linguistic  speculations  must  have  based  themselves. 
Nothing,  unfortunately,  has  survived  ;  and  this  literature,  which 
must  have  been  supplanted  by  the  more  mature  writings  of  later 
times,  is  now  only  a  matter  of  surmise. 

The  evidence  would  have  been  more  definite  if  any  reliance 
could  be  placed  on  the  statement  contained  in  a  verse,  ascribed 
to  Rajasekhara  J  in  Jahlana's  Sukti-muldavaU  (1257  A.D.)  that 
Panini  wrote  "  first  the  grammar  and  then  the  Kfivya,  the 
Jarnbavati-jaya."  A  fragment  2  from  Panini's  Jambavati- 
vijaya  is  preserved  by  Rayarnukuta  in  his  commentary  on  Amara- 
l{o$a  (,  which  was  composed  in  1431  A.D.  Much  earlier 
than  this  date,  Nami-sadhu  who  wrote  his  commentary  on 
Rudrata's  Kavyalamkara  in  10G9  A.D.,'{  cites  "  from  Panini's 
Mahakavya,  the  Patala-vijaya,"  a  fragment  (samdhya-vadhu'ni 
grhya  karena)  in  illustration  of  the  remark  that  great  poets  permit 

1  svasti  Paninaye  tasmai  yasya     Rudra-prasddatah  \    ddau   vydkaranani.  kdvyam  anu 
Jambavati-jayam  \\     This  RajasSekhara  could   not  have  been   the  Jaina   BajaSekhara,    who 
wrote  his  Prabandha-kota  in  1348  A.D. ;  but  it  is  not  clear  if  he  was  the  dramatist  Rajagekhora, 
who  flourished  during  the  end  of  the  Oth  and  the  beginning  of  the  10th  i-entury ;    for   in  the 
latter'a  Kavya-mlmatysd  there  are  references  <o  Panioi's  learned  achievements  but  no  mention 
of  him  as  a  poet. 

2  payah-prsantibhih  spjstd    vdnti  vatah  tanaih  fanaili.    Altogether  Bfiyamukuta  quotes 
three  fragments  from  Panini  (Bbandarkar,  Report,  1883-84,  pp.  62,  479).     Another  quotation 
from  J&mbavati-jaya  is  given  by  Aufrecht  in  ZDMG>  XLV,  1891,  p.  308. 

3  S.  K.  De,  Sanskrit  Poetics,  I,  p,  98. 


themselves  the  licence  of  ungrammatical  forms,1  and  further  gives, 
as  another  example,  a  stanza  "  of  the  same  poet  "  in  which  the 
un-Paninian  form  apatyatl  occurs.2  Both  these  Kavyas,  ascribed 
to  Panini,  are  now  lost,  but  their  titles  imply  that  they  apparent- 
ly dealt  with  Krsna's  descent  into  the  lower  world  and  winning 
of  Jambavati  as  his  bride.  It  is  not  clear,  however,  from  these 
separate  and  brief  references,  if  they  are  two  different  works  or 
one  work  with  two  different  names.  The  tradition  of  Panini's 
poetical  achievement  is  also  recorded  in  an  anonymous  stanza 
given  in  the  Sadukti-karnamrta  (1206  A.D.),8  while  seventeen 
verses,  other  than  those  mentioned  above,  are  also  found  cited 
in  the  Anthologies  under  the  name  of  a  poet  PSnini,4  of  which 
the  earliest  citation  appears  to  be  a  verse  given  in  the  Kavindra- 
vacana-samuccaya  5  (about  1000  A.D.).  Most  of  these  verses  are 
in  the  fanciful  vein  and  ornate  diction,  and  some  are  distinctly 

1  Ed.  NSP,  ad  2  fl  :  mahdkavindm  apy  apasabda-pdta-darsandt,    Nami-sadhu  also  quotes 
in  the  same  context  similar  solecisms  from  the  poems  of  Bhartrhari,  Kalid&sa  and  Bhai  wi. 

2  gate'rdha-rdtre  parimanda-mandam  garjanti  yat  prdvjsi  kdla*meglidh  \ 
apafyati  vatsam  ivendu-bimbam  tac  charvari  gaur  iva  hutpkaroti  j| 

3  5.26.5,   which   extols   Bhavabhuti   along    with     Subandhu,    Kaghukara    (KalidSsa), 
Dftks^putra  (Panini),  Haricandra,  Sura  and  Bbaravi. 

*  The  Anthology  verses  are  collected  together  and  translated  by  Aufrecht  in  ZDMG, 
XIV,  p.  581f ;  XXVII,  p.  46f ;  XXXVI,  p.  365f ;  XLV,  p.  308f.  They  are  also  given  by  Peter- 
son,  introd.  to  Subhasitdvalit  pp.  54-58  and  JRAS,  1891,  pp.  311-19,  and  more  fully  by  F.  W. 
Thomas,  Kavmdravacana* ,  introd.,  pp.  51-53.  Also  see  Aufrecht  in  ZDMQ,  XXVIII,  p.  113,  for 
quotations  by  Bayamuku$a.— The  following  abbreviations  will  be  used  for  the  Anthologies  cited 
below  :  #t?s=Kavfndra-vacana-samuccaya,  ed  F.  W.  Thomas,  Bibl.  Ind.,  Calcutta,  1912; 
SP=Sarngadhara-paddbati,  ed.  P.  Peterson,  Bombay,  1888;  567ifl  =  8ubhasitavali  of  Vallabha- 
deva,  ed.  P.  Peterson,  Bombay,  1886;  <SW=Sukti-rnukt5vali  of  Jahlana,  ed.  Gaekwad's  Orient. 
Series,  Baroda,  1939  ;  fl/rw^Saduktikanpamrtn,  ed.  B.  Sarma  and  H.  Sarma,  Lahore,  1933; 
Pdr«PadyavalT,  ed.  S.  K.  De,  Dacca,  1934. 

6  No.  186,  tanvangmam  stanaii  dr$tva.  As  it  will  be  clear  from  the  concordance  given 
by  Thomas,  the  ascription  in  the  Anthologies  is  not  uniform.  The  Sbhv  gives  nine  verses,  of 
which  two  only  (upodha-ragena  and  ksapah,  ksamlkrtya)  are  ascribed  by  SP.  The  Skm  gives 
8  verses  including  iipodha-ragena;  while  Sml  assigns  this  verse,  as  well  as  ksapah  kfamikrtya, 
which  last  verse  is  given  also  by  Sbhv  and  SP  but  which  is  anonymous  in  Kvs  and  ascribed 
to  Ofpkai}$ha  in  Skm.  The  verses  panau  padma-dhiyd  and  panau  fana-tale  are  assigned  to 
PS^ini  in  Skm,  but  they  are  anonymous  in  Kvs,  while  the  first  verse  is  sometimes  ascribed 
to  Acala.  Some  of  these  verses  are  quoted  in  the  Alamkara  works,  but  always  anonymously, 
the  oldest  citations  being  those  by  Vamana  ad  IV.  3  (aindrani  dhanufy)  and  Inandavardhana, 
p.  35  (upodha-rdcjena). 


erotic  in  theme.  Among  the  metres  employed  we  have  one  verse 
in  Sikharim,  two  in  Sloka,  two  in  Sardulavikrldita,  three  in 
Sragdhara,  three  in  Vam^asthavila  and  six  in  Upajati.  It  is 
noteworthy  that  Ksemendra,  in  his  Suvrtta-tilaka  (iii.  30),  tells 
us  in  the  llth  century  that  Panini  excelled  in  composing  verses 
intheUpaiati  metre1;  and  we  find  that,  besides  the  six  Anthology 
verses,  both  the  verses  quoted  by  Nami-sadhu,  as  well  as  two  out 
of  the  three  fragments  given  by  Rayamukuta,  are  in  the  Upajati. 
Aufrecht,  who  first  drew  attention  to  the  existence  of 
a  poet  named  Panini,  remarked  that  we  did  not  as  yet  know 
of  more  than  one  author  of  that  name  ;  and  the  question 
whether,  despite  the  rarity  of  the  name,  we  can  assume  the 
existence  of  more  than  one  Panini  has  not,  in  the  interval, 
advanced  much  beyond  that  stage.  As  the  Indian  tradition, 
however,  knows  only  of  one  Panini  who  wrote  the  famous 
grammar  and  \vhom  it  does  not  distinguish  from  the  poet  Panini, 
it  has  been  maintained  that  the  grammarian  and  the  poet  are 
identical.  2  While  admitting  that  the  evidence  adduced  is  late, 
and  that  the  ascription  in  the  Anthologies,  being  notoriously 
careless,  should  not  be  taken  as  conclusive,  one  cannot  yet  lose 
sight  of  the  fact  that  the  tradition  recorded  from  the  llth  century, 
independently  by  various  writers,  makes  no  distinction  between 
Panini  the  grammarian  and  Panini  the  poet.  The  genuineness 
of  the  Anthology  verses  may  well  be  doubted,  but  the  naming  of 
the  two  poems,  from  which  verses  are  actually  quoted,  cannot  be 
so  easily  brushed  aside.  The  silence  of  grammarians  from 

1  AB,  we  are  told  further,  Kalidaaa  ia  Mandakranta,  Bhavabhuti  in  SikharinT, 
Bh&ravi  in  VarpSasthavila,  Ratnakara  in  Vasantatilaka,  and  Rajagekhara  in  Sardulavikridita, 
etc.  The  preponderance  of  Upajati  in  As*vaghos.a's  Buddlia-carita  (ed.  E.  H.  Johnston,  Pt.  II, 
p.  Ixvi)  undoubtedly  indicates  its  early  popularity,  attested  also  by  its  adoption  by  Kalidasa  io 
his  two  poems. 

*  Tn  the  works  and  articles  of  Peterson  cited  above.  Pischel,  in  ZDM G,  XXXIX,  1885,  p. 
95f  believes  in  the  identity,  but  he  makes  it  the  ground  of  placing  Panini  at  about  the  fifth 
century  A.D. ;  Biihler, however,  rightly  points  out  (I A,  XV,  1886,  p.  241)  that  "  if  the  gram- 
marian  P&nini  did  write  a  Kavya,  it  does  not  follow  that  he  should  be  supposed  to  live  in 
the  4th  or  6th  century  A.D. ;  the  Kavya  literature  is  much  older.1' 

2-  1348B 


Patafijali  downwards  is  a  negative  argument  1  which  proves 
nothing,  while  the  least  valid  of  all  objections  is  that  the 
Sanskrit  of  the  poems  could  not  have  been  the  Sanskrit  of  Panini, 
or  that  Panini  could  not  have  used  such  ungrainmatical  forms  as 
grhya  and  apatyatl  in  defiance  of  his  own  rules  (vii.  i.  37,  81). 
The  occurrence  of  such  archaisms,  which  are  not  rare  in  old 
poets,2  is  itself  a  strong  indication  of  the  antiquity  of  the  poem  or 
poems;  and  when  we  consider  that  only  two  centuries  later 
Patafijali  refers  to  a  Kavya  by  Vararuci,  who  was  also  perhaps 
a  grammarian-poet, 8  and  quotes  fragments  of  verses  composed  in 
the  same  ornate  manner  and  diction,  the  argument  that  the 
language  of  the  poems  is  comparatively  modern  and  could  not 
have  been  that  of  Panini  loses  much  of  its  force.  In  the  absence 
of  further  decisive  evidence,  however,  the  question  must  be 
regarded  as  open ;  but  nothing  convincing  has  so  far  been 
adduced  which  would  prove  that  the  grammarian  could  not  have 
composed  a  regular  Kavya. 

The  literary  evidence  furnished  by  the  quotations  and 
references  in  Patanjali's  Mahabhasya,  which  show  that  the 
Sanskrit  Kavya  in  some  of  its  recognised  forms  flourished  in  the 
2nd  century  B.C.,  4  gives  us  the  first  definite  indication  regard- 
ing its  early  origin  and  development.  Patafijali  directly 
mentions  a  "Vararuca  Kavya  (ad  h.3.101),  5  although,  un- 

1    R.  G.  Bhandarkar  in  JBRAS,  XVI,  p.  344. 

4  These  archaisms  are  authenticated  by  the  Epics,  by  As*vaghosa  and  by  what  Pataft;ali 
Bays  about  poetic  licence.  Narni-sidhu,  as  noted  above,  rightly  points  out  that  such  irregular 
forms  are  not  rare  even  in  later  poets,  The  frdgtn2nts  quoted  by  ilayamukut  i  and  Narni- 
sld  m  have  undoubtedly  the  appearance  of  bsing  old.  Some  of  the  Anthology  verses  contain 
instances  of  1e:lio  difficilior,  which  have  been  discussad  by  B5'itlingk  in  ZDMG,  XXXVT,  p 

3  Besides  Vararuci,  whose  verses  have  been  cited  in  the  Anthologies  (Peterson,  introd.  to 
56 Jit?  p.  103;  Skm,  introd.,  pp.  105-07),  we  hive  similar  verses  ascribe J  to  Bhartrbari  (see 
Peterson  in  Sbhv,  introd.,  p.  74;  Skm,  iutrod.,  p.  82)  and  Vya^i  (Skm,  V.  82.2;. 

*  On  the  question  of  Patafifali's  date,  which  is  still  uncertain,  see  Keith,  India  Office  Cat. 
o/  MSSt  II,  p.  2l8f. 

&  One  o!  Rajas*ekharaf8  verses  in  the  Sukti  mukiGvaH  tells  us  that  the  name  of  Vararuci 's 
poem  was  Kan(babharana.  Vararuci  is  one  of  the  mysterious  figures  of  early  Sanskrit 
literature.  He  is  sometimes  identified  with  the  V&rttikakara  Katyayana  and  extolled  as  one 
of  the  nine  gems  of  the  court  of  on  equally  mysterious  Vikramadilya.  To  him  a  monologue- 


fortunately,  he  supplies  no  further  information  about  it.  He 
refers  to  poetic  licence,  which  was  apparently  not  rare  in  his  day, 
with  the  remark  :  chandovnt  kavayah  kurvanti  (ad  i.4.3).  He 
appears  to  know  various  forms  of  the  Kavya  literature  other  than 
poetry,  although  from  his  tantalisingly  brief  references  or  frag- 
mentary quotations  it  is  not  always  possible  to  determine  in  what 
exact  form  they  were  known  to  him.  Like  Panini,  Patanjali 
knows  the  Bharata  epic  and  refers  to  Granthikas,  who  were 
probably  professional  reciters.  Tales  about  Yavakrita,  Priyarigu 
and  Yayati  were  current;  and  commenting  on  Katyayana's 
oldest  mention  of  the  Akhyayika, 1  which  alluded  not  to  narrative 
episodes  found  in  the  Epics  but  to  independent  works,  Patanjali 
gives  the  names  of  three  Akhyayikas,  namely,  Vasavadatta, 
Bumanottara  and  Bhaimarathl.  But,  unfortunately,  we  have  no 
details  regarding  their  form  and  content.  In  an  obscure  passage 
(ad  iii.  1.2G),  over  the  interpretation  of  which  there  has  been 
much  difference  of  opinion, 2  a  reference  is  made  to  some  kind  of 
entertainment — possibly  dramatic — in  which  a  class  of  enter- 
tainers called  Saubhikas  carry  out,  apparently  by  means  of  vivid 
action,  the  killing  of  Kamsa  and  the  binding  of  Bali.  Greater 
interest  attaches  to  some  forty  quotations,  mostly  metrical,  but 
often  given  in  fragments,  in  which  one  can  find  eulogistic,  erotic 
or  gnomic  themes  in  the  approved  style  and  language  of  the 
Kavya.  The  metres  in  which  they  are  conveyed  are  no  longer 

play,  entitled  Ubhayabhisarika,  is  attributed,  as  well  a3  a  lost  work  called  Carumati,  which  was 
apparently  a  romauce.  He  is  vaguely  referred  to  as  an  authority  on  the  Aiamkara-s'a'atra  (S.  If. 
De,  Sanskrit  Poetics,  I,  p.  70)  and  regarded  as  the  author  of  a  Prakrit  Grammar  (Prakfta- 
prakata),  of  a  work  on  grammatical  gender  (Lihgdnu£a$ana)t  of  a  collection  of  gnomic  stanzas 
(Niti-ratna)  and  even  of  an  eastern  version  of  the  collection  of  folk-tales  known  as  Sinihasana* 
dvdtrirtisikd.  Apparently,  be  was  me  of  the  far-off  apocryphal  authors  of  traditional  repute  on 
whom  all  anooyma  could  be  conveniently  lumped. 

1  Varttika  on   Pa,,  iv.3.87  and  iv.2.60.     Also  see   Patafi;ali,  ed.   Kielhorn,  II,  p.  284. 
Katyayana  knows  a  work  named  Daiv&suram,  dealing   apparently  with  the  story  of  the  war  of 
gods  and  demons. 

2  Ed.  Kielhorn,  II,  p.  36.    See  Weber  in  Ind>  St.,  XIII,  p.  488f ;  Liiders  in  SB  AW,  1916, 
p.  C98f ;  L6vi  ia  ThMtre  tnd.,I,  p.  315;  Hillebrandb  in  ZDMG,  LXXU,  p.  227f;  Keith  io 
BSOS,  I,  Pt.  4,  p.  27f  and  Sanskrit  Drama,  Oxford,  1924,  p.  fclf. 


Vedic,  but  we  have,  besides  the  classical  Sloka,  fragments  of 
stanzas  in  Malati,  Praharsim,  VamSasthavila,  Vasantatilaka, 
Pramitaksara,  Tndravajra  or  Upendravajra.  In  addition  to  this, 
there  are  about  260  scattered  verses  *  treating  of  grammatical 
matters  (sometimes  called  Sloka-varttikas),  which  employ,  besides 
the  normal  gloka,  Arya,  Vaktra  and  some  irregular  Tristubh- 
Jagatl  metres,  such  ornate  lyrical  measures  as  Vidyunmala 
(3  stanzas),  Samani,  Indravajra  and  Upendravajra  (7  stanzas), 
SalinI  (4  stanzas),  Vamsasthavila,  Dodhaka  (12  stanzas)  and 
Totaka  (2  stanzas). 

This  early  evolution  of  lyrical  measures,  multitude  of  which 
is  systematically  defined  and  classified  in  the  earliest  known 
work  on  Prosody,  attributed  to  Pingala,  2  takes  us  beyond  the 
sphere  of  the  Vedic  and  Epic  metrical  systems.  The  Epic  poets, 
generally  less  sensitive  to  delicate  rhythmic  effects,  preferred 
metres  in  which  long  series  of  stanzas  could  be  composed  with 
ease ;  but  the  metrical  variation  in  lyric  and  sentimental  poetry, 
which  had  love  for  its  principal  theme,  accounts  for  the  large 
number  of  lyric  metres  which  came  into  existence  in  the 
classical  period.  Some  of  the  new  metres  derive  their  names 
from  their  characteristic  form  or  movement :  such  as,  Druta- 
vilambita  '  fast  and  slow,'  VegavatI  '  of  impetuous  motion/ 
Mandakranta  '  stepping  slowly,'  Tvaritagati  '  quickly  moving  '  ; 
some  are  named  after  plants  and  flowers:  Mala  'garland/ 
Mafijari  '  blossom  '  ;  some  are  called  after  the  sound  and 
habit  of  animals,  Sardula-vikrldita  '  play  of  the  tiger/  A£va- 
lalita  '  gait  of  the  horse/  Harini-pluta  '  leap  of  the  deer/ 
Hamsa-ruta  '  cackling  of  the  geese/  Bhramara-vilasita  '  sportive- 
ness  of  the  bees,'  Gaja-gati  *  motion  of  elephant  '  ;  but  it 
is  also  remarkable  that  the  names  given  to  a  very  large  number 

1    Kielhorn  in  lAt  XV,  1886,  p.  228 ;  also  1A t  XIV,  pp.  326-27. 

8  M.  Ghosh  in  IHQ,  VII,  1931,  p.  724f,  maintains  that  the  parts  dealing  with  the 
.Vcdic  and  classical  metres  respectively  cannot  be  attributed  to  the  same  auth<r,  &nd  that 
the  Vedio  part  should  be  assigned  to  circa  600  B.C.;  D,  C  Sarcar,  in  Ind.  Culture,  VI, 
pp.  110f,274,  believes  that  the  classical  part  cannot  be  placed  earlier  than  the  5th  century  A.D. 


of  metres  are  epithets  of  fair  maidens  :  Tanvi  '  slender-limbed/ 
Kucira  '  dainty/  Pramada  '  handsome/  Pramitaksara  '  a 
maiden  of  measured  words/  Manjubhasini  '  a  maiden  of  charm- 
ing speech/  SaSivadana  '  moonfaced/  Citralekha  *  a  maiden  of 
beautiful  outlines/  Vidyunmrila  *  chain  of  lightning/  Kanaka- 
prabha  '  radiance  of  gold/  Cfiruhasin!  '  sweetly  smiling/  Kunda- 
danti  '  a  maiden  of  budlike  teeth/  Vasantatilaka  '  decora- 
tion of  spring/  Cancalaksi  '  a  maiden  of  tremulous  glances/ 
Sragdhara  'a  maiden  with  a  garland/  and  Kantotpkla  '  plague 
of  her  lovers  '  !  The  names  mentioned  above  undoubtedly 
indicate  a  more  developed  and  delicate  sense  of  rhythmic  forms. 
The  names  of  fair  maidens,  however,  need  not  be  taken  as 
having  actually  occurred  in  poems  originally  composed  in  their 
honour  by  diverse  poets,  but  they  certainly  point  to  an  original 
connexion  of  these  Jyric  metres  with  erotic  themes  ;  and  Jacobi 
is  right  in  suggesting  ]  that  they  had  their  origin  in  the  Sanskrit 
Kavya  poetry  of  a  pre-Christian  era,  from  which  the  Maharastri 
lyric  also  had  its  impetus  and  inspiration. 

The  difficulty  of  arriving  at  an  exact  conclusion  regarding 
the  origin  and  development  of  the  Kavya  arises  from  the  fact 
that  all  the  Kavya  literature  between  Patanjali  and  Asvaghosa 
has  now  disappeared ;  and  we  cannot  confidently  assign  any 
of  the  Kavyas,  which  have  come  down  to  us,  to  the  period 
between  the  2nd  century  B.C.  and  the  1st  or  2nd  century  A.D. 
We  have  thus  absolutely  no  knowledge  of  the  formative  period 
of  Sanskrit  literature.  The  Kavya  does  not  indeed  emerge  in 
a  definite  and  self-conscious  form  until  we  come  to  Asvaghosa, 
the  first  known  Kavya-poet  of  eminence,  who  is  made  a  contem- 
porary of  Kaniska  by  both  Chinese  and  Tibetan  traditions,  and 
who  can  be  placed  even  on  independent  grounds  "  between 
50  B.C.  and  100  A.D.  with  a  preference  to  the  first  half  of  the 
first  century  A.D."  2  An  examination  of  Asvaghosa's  works, 

1  in  ZDMG,  XXXVIII,  pp.  616-17. 

2  See  Buddha-carita,  ed.  E.  H.  Johnston  (Calcutta,  1936),  Pfc.  II,  iutrod.,  pp.    xiii-xviJ 


however,  shows  *  that  although  they  are  free  from  the  later 
device  of  overgrown  compounds,  they  betray  an  unmistakable 
knowledge,  even  in  a  somewhat  rough  and  primitive  form,  of 
the  laws  of  Kavya  poetry,  by  their  skill  in  the  use  of  classical 
metres,2  by  their  handling  of  similes  and  other  rhetorical  figures, 
and  by  their  growing  employment  of  the  stanza  as  a  separate 
unit  of  expression. 

A  little  later,  we  have  a  fairly  extensive  Sanskrit  inscription, 
carved  on   a  rock  at  Girnar,   of   Mahaksatrapa  Rudradaman,3 
celebrating  an  event  of  about   150  A.D.  and  composed  in  the 
ornate   Sanskrit   prose   familiar  to   us   from   the   Kavya.     The 
literary  merit  of  this   Prasasti   cannot   be  reckoned  very  high, 
but  it  is  important  as  one  of   the   earliest   definite   instances  of 
high-flown  Sanskrit  prose  composition.     The  inscription  contains 
a  reference  to  the  king's  skill  in  the  composition  of    "  prose   and 
verse  embellished   and   elevated   by   verbal   conventions,   which 
are  clear,    light,    pleasant,   varied    and   charming/'  4     Making 
allowance  for  heightened  statement  not  unusual   in   mscriptional 
panegyric,  the  reference  can  be  taken  as  an   interesting  evidence 
of   the   early   interest  in  Sanskrit  culture  evinced  even  by  a  king 
of  foreign   extraction.     One   can   also   see   in   the   reference  at 
least  the  author's,  if  not   his   patron's,    acquaintance   with  some 
form   of  poetic  art  which  prescribed  poetic  embellishment  (Alam- 
kara)   and  conventional    adjustment   of   words   (Sabda-samaya), 
involving  the  employment  of  such  excellences  as  clearness,   light- 
on  the  d<*te  of  Kaniska  a  summary  of  the  divergent  views,  with  full   references,   is  given   by 
Winternitz,   History   of  Indian   Literature   (referred   to   below   as  H!L)t  II,   Calcutta,  1983, 
pp  611*11.     The  limits  of  divergence  are  now  no  longer  very   large,   and   the   date   100   A,D. 
would  be  a  rough  but  not  unjust  estimate. 
1     E.  H.  Johnston,  op.  cit.t  pp.  Ixiii  f. 

8  Among  the  metres  used  (besides  classical  Anustubh)  are  Upa;'Sti,  Vams'asthavila, 
Rucira,  PrahirsinT,  Vasantatilaka,  Malinl,  Sikharini,  SardulavikrTdita,  Suvadanft,  Viyogint 
or  SuodarT,  Aup  ccbandasika,  Vaitalfya,  PufjpitS^ra,  and  even  unknown  metres  like  $arabh&, 
and  rare  and  difficult  ones  like  Kusnmalatavellita  (called  Citralekhft  by  Bharata),  Udgata  and 

3    El,  VIII,  p.  36f. 

*    sphuta-laghu-madhura-citra-jkanta  sabda&amayodaT&laipkrta>gadya  padya*. 


ness,  sweetness,  variety,  charm  and  elevation.  It  is  notable 
that  the  composition  itself  is  not  free  from  archaisms  like 
patina  (for  patya),  Prakritisms  like  vUaduttarani  (for  vimhd-)  or 
irregular  construction  like  anyatra  samgramesu  ;  but  in  respect 
of  the  employment  of  long  sentences  and  sonorous  compounds,  of 
poetic  figures  like  simile  and  alliteration,  and  of  other  literary 
devices,  it  exemplifies  some  of  the  distinctive  characteristics  of 
the  Sanskrit  Kavya.  TheNasik  inscription  of  Siri  Pulumayi1 
also  belongs  to  the  2nd  century  A.D.  and  exhibits  similar  features, 
but  it  is  composed  in  Prakrit,  apparently  by  one  who  was  familiar 
with  Sanskrit  models. 

Not  very  far  perhaps  in  time  from  A^vaghosa  flourished  the 
Buddhist  writers,  Matrceta,  Kumaralata  and  Arya  Sura,  whose 
works,  so  far  as  they  have  been  recovered,  afford  conclusive 
evidence  of  the  establishment  of  the  Kavya  style.  To  the  third 
or  fourth  century  A.D.  is  also  assigned  the  Tantrakhyayika, 
which  is  the  earliest  known  form  of  the  Pancatantra  ;  and  the 
oldest  ingredients  of  the  Sattasal  of  Hala  and  the  Brhatkatha  of 
of  Gunadhya  also  belong  probably  to  this  period.  It  would  also 
be  not  wrong  to  assume  that  the  sciences  of  Erotics  and  Drama- 
turgy, typified  by  the  works  of  Vatsyayana  and  Bharata,  took 
shape  during  this  time  ;  and,  though  we  do  not  possess  any  very 
early  treatise  on  Poetics,  the  unknown  beginnings  of  the  disci- 
pline are  to  be  sought  also  in  this  period,  which  saw  the  growth 
of  the  factitious  Kavya.  The  Artha-£ustra  of  Kautilya  is  placed 
somewhat  earlier,  but  the  development  of  political  and  administra- 
tive ideas  must  have  proceeded  apace  with  the  growth  of  material 
prosperity  and  with  the  predominance  of  an  entirely  secular 

We  have,  however,  no  historical  authority  for  the  date  of  any 
of  these  works,  nor  of  the  great  Kavya-poets,  until  we  come 
to  the  Aihole  inscription  of  634  A.D.,2  which  mentions  Bharavi, 

1     Elt  VIII,  p.  COf. 

?  #/,  vi,  p.  if. 


along  with  Kalidasa,  as  poets  of  established  reputation.  Kali- 
dasa,  however,  speaking  modestly  of  himself  at  the  commence- 
ment of  his  Malavikagnimitra,  mentions  Bhasa,  Somila  (or 
Saumilla)  and  Kaviputra  as  predecessors  whose  works  might 
delay  the  appreciation  of  his  own  drama ,  Although  agree- 
ment has  not  yet  been  reached  about  the  authenticity  of  the 
Trivandrum  dramas  ascribed  to  Bhasa,  there  cannot  be  any 
doubt  that  a  dramatist  Bhasa  attained,  even  in  this  early  period, 
a  reputation  high  enough  to  be  eulogised  by  Kfilidasa,  and  later 
on  by  Banabhatta.  Of  Somila  we  know  from  Bajasekhara1 
that  he  was  the  joint  author,  with  Ramila,2  of  a  8iidraka-katha, 
which  is  now  lost ;  and  only  one  verse  of  theirs  is  preserved  by 
Jahlana  (59.  35)  and  Sanigadhara  (No.  3822)  in  their  antho- 
logies.8 Of  Kaviputra  also,  who  is  cited  in  the  dual,  we  have 
nothing  but  one  verse  only,  given  in  the  Subhasitavali  (No.  2227), 
but  the  verse  now  stands  in  Bhartrhari's  tfatakas  (Snigara0, 
st.  3) 

A  definite  landmark,  however,  is  supplied  by  the  Harsa-carita 
of  Banabhatta  who,  as  a  contemporary  of  King  Harsavardhana 
of  Thaneswar  and  Kanauj,  belonged  to  the  first  half  of  the  7th 
century  A.D.,  and  who,  in  the  preface  to  this  work,  pays  homage 
to  some  of  his  distinguished  predecessors.  Besides  an  un- 
named author  of  a  Vasavadatta,  who  may  or  may  not  be 
Subandhu,  he  mentions  Bhattara  Haricandra  who  wrote  an 
unnamed  prose  work,  Satavahana  who  compiled  an  anthology, 
Pravarasena  whose  fame  travelled  beyond  the  seas  by  his  Setu 
(-bandha),  Bhasa  who  composed  some  distinctive  dramas,  Kali- 
dasa  whose  flower-like  honied  words  ever  bring  delight,  the 
author  of  the  Brhat-hatha,  and  Adhyaraja.  Of  Bhattara 

1  tan  Sudrdkahatha-karau  vandyau  Ramila-Somilau  \  ynyor  dvayoh  Itavyam   asld  ardlia- 
ndrttvaropaman  II  ,  cited  in  Jahlapa,  op  cit. 

2  One  \erseunderIUruilakai8givenby  Sbhv,  No.  1698.    The  Sudraka-hatha  is  men- 
tioned and  quoted  by  Bhoja  in  bis  Srhgard'prakatia ;   ibe  name  of   the  heroine  is  given  as 

3  Tlie  stanza,  bowever,  is  given    anonymously  in  Kvs  (No.  473)  and   attributed    to 
K&ia&kbara  in  Ston  (ii.  86.  6). 


Haricandra2and  Adhyaraja1  we  know  nothing;  but  it  is  clear 
that  the  fame  of  the  remaining  well  known  authors  must 
have  been  wide-spread  by  the  7th  century  A,D.  Although  the 
respective  dates  of  these  works  and  authors  cannot  be  fixed  with 
certainty,  it  can  be  assumed  from  Banabhatta's  enumeration  that 
the  period  preceding  him  formed  one  of  the  most  distinguished 
epochs  of  Kavya  literature,  the  development  of  which  probably 
proceeded  apace  with  the  flourishing  of  Sanskrit  culture  under  the 
Gupta  emperors  in  the  4th  and  5th  centuries  of  the  Christian 

This  conclusion  receives  confirmation  from  the  wide  culti- 
vation of  the  Kavya  form  of  prose  and  verse  in  the  inscrip- 
tional  records  of  this  period,  of  which  not  less  than  fifteen 
specimens  of  importance  will  be  found  in  the  third  volume  of 
Fleet's  Corpus  Inscriptionum  Indicarum*  Their  Kavya-features 
and  importance  in  literary  history  have  long  since  been  ably 
discussed  by  Biihler.4  His  detailed  examination  not  only  proves 
the  existence  of  a  body  of  elaborate  prose  and  metrical  writings 
in  Kavya-style  during  these  centuries,  but  also  shows  that  the 
manner  in  which  these  Prasasti-writers  conform  to  the  rules 
of  Alamkara,  crystallised  later  in  the  oldest  available  treatises 
like  those  of  Bhainaha  and  Dandin,  would  establish  the 
presumption  of  their  acquaintance  with  some  rules  of  Sanskrit 

1  Most  scholars  have  accepted  Pischel's  contention  (Nachrichten  d.  kgl.  GeselUchaft  d. 
Wissenschaften  Gottingen,  1901,  p.  486  f.)  that  the  word  ddhyardja  in  st.  18  is  not  a 
proper  name  of  any  poet  but  refers  to  the  poet's  patron  King  Harsa  himself.  Bat  the  verse 
has  difficulties  of  interpretation,  for  which  see  F.  W.  Thomas  and  others  in  JRAS,  1903, 
p.  803;  1904,  p.  155  f.,  366,  544;  1905,  p.  569  f.  We  also  know  from  a  stanza  quoted  in  the 
Sarasvatt-kanthabharana  that  there  was  a  Prakrit  poet  named  Adhyaraja,  who  is  mentioned 
along  with  Sahasftfika;  the  commentary,  however,  explaining  in  a  facile  way  that  Adhyaraja 
stands  for  Sftlivahana  and  Sahas&nka  for  Vikrama  ! 

*  He  is  certainly  not  the  Jaina  Haricandra,  author  of  the  much  later  Dharma£armabhyu- 
daya  which  gives  a  dull  account  of  the  saint  Dharmanatha  (ed.  N8P,  Bombay,  1899).    Our 
Haricandra  is  apparently  mentioned  in  a  list  of  great  poets  in  Skm  (5.  26.  5),  and  quoted  in 
the  anthologies. 

3  Calcutta,  1888.  Some  of  these  inscriptional  records  will  be  found  in  a  convenient 
form  in  DevanSgarl  in  D.  B.  Diskalkar's  Selections  from  Inscriptions,  Vol.  I  (Eajkol,  1925), 

*  In  Die  indischen  Inschriftin,  cited  above. 



poetics..  The  most  interesting  of  these  inscriptions  is  the 
panegyric  of  Samudragupta  by  Harisena,  engraved  on  a 
pillar  at  Allahabad  (about  350  A.D.),  which  commences  with 
eight  stanzas  (some  fragmentary)  describing  vividly  the  death  of 
Candragupta  I  and  accession  of  his  son  Samudragupta,  then 
passes  over  to  one  long  sonorous  prose  sentence  and  winds  up 
with  an  eulogistic  stanza, — all  composed  in  the  best  manner  of 
the  Kavya.  Likewise  remarkable  is  the  inscription  of  Virasena, 
the  minister  of  Candragupta  II,  Samudragupta' s  successor. 
Some  importance  attaches  also  to  the  inscription  of  Vatsabhatti^ 
which  consists  of  a  series  of  44  stanzas  celebrating  (in  473  A.D.) 
the  consecration  of  a  Sun-temple  at  Dagapura  (Mandasor),  from 
the  fact  that  the  poetaster  is  alleged  to  have  taken  Kalidasa  as 
his  model ;  but  the  literary  merit  of  this  laboured  composition 
need  not  be  exaggerated. 


It  is  noteworthy  that  in  Harisena' s  Pra&isti,  Samudragupta 
is  mentioned  not  only  as  a  friend  and  patron  of  poets  but  as  a 
poet  himself,  who  like  Kudradaman  before  him,  composed  poems 
of  distinction  enough  to  win  for  himself  tbe  title  of  Kaviraja  or 
king  of  poets.1  Amiable  flattery  it  may  be^  but  the  point  is 
important ;  for,  the  tradition  of  royal  authors,  as  well  as  of  royal 
patrons  of  authors,  continues  throughout  the  history  of  Sanskrit 
literature.  The  very  existence  of  rdyal  inscriptions  written  in 
Kavya-style,  as  well  as  the  form,  content  and  general  outlook 
of  the  Kavya  literature  itself  indicates  its  close  connexion  with 
the  courts  of  princes,  and  explains  the  association  of  Agvaghosa 
with  Kaniska,  of  Kalidasa  with  a  Vikramaditya,  or  of  Bana- 
bhatta  with  Harsavardhana.  The  royal  recognition  not  only 
brought  wealth  and  fame  to  the  poets,  but  also  some  leisure  for 

i    For  other  examples  of  poet-kings  see  'introduction  to  the  edition  of  Priyadartika  bj 
Nsriman,  Jackon  and  Ogden,  pp.  xxxv-xxxix. 


serious  composition.  In  his  Kavya-mimamsa  R5ja£ekhara 
speaks  of  literary  assemblies  held  by  kings  for  examination  of 
works  and  reward  of  merit  ;  and  even  if  we  do  not  put  faith  in 
this  or  in  the  unhistorical  pictures  of  poetical  contests  at  royal 
courts  given  in  the  Bhoja-prabandha  and  Prabandha-cintdmaniz 
a  vivid  account  is  furnished  by  Maftkha  in  his  Srlkanlha-carita 
(Canto  XV)  of  one  such  assembly  actually  held  by  a  minister  of 
Jayasimha  of  Kashmir  towards  the  middle  of  the  12th  century. 
As  a  matter  of  fact,  the  Kavya  literature  appears  to  have  been 
aristocratic  from  the  beginning,  fostered  under  the  patronage  of 
the  wealthy  or  in  the  courts  of  the  princes.  Even  if  it  does  not 
lack  serious  interest,  this  literature  naturally  reflects  the  graces, 
as  well  as  the  artificialities,  of  courtly  life ;  and  its  exuberant 
fancy  is  quite  in  keeping  with  the  taste  which  prevailed  in  this 
atmosphere.  The  court-influence  undoubtedly  went  a  long  way, 
not  only  in  fostering  a  certain  langour  and  luxuriance  of  style, 
but  also  in  encouraging  a  marked  preference  of  what  catches  the 
the  eye  to  what  touches  the  heart. 

In  order  to  appreciate  the  Kavya,  therefore,  it  is  necessary 
to  realise  the  condition  under  which  it  was  produced  and  the 
environment  in  which  it  flourished.  The  pessimism  of  the 
Buddhistic  ideal  gradually  disappeared^  having  been  replaced  by 
more  accommodating  views  about  the  value  of  pleasure.  Even 
the  Buddhist  author  of  the  Nagdnanda  does  not  disdain  to  weave 
a  love-theme  into  his  lofty  story  of  Jimutavahana's  self-sacrifice  ; 
and  in  his  opening  benedictory  stanza  he  does  not  hesitate  to 
represent  the  Buddha  as  being  rallied  upon  his  hard-heartedness 
by  the  ladies  of  Mara's  train.1  From  Patanjali's  references  we 
find  that  from  its  very  dawn  love  is  established  as  one  of  the 
dominant  themes  of  the  Kavya  poetry.2  The  Buddhist  conception 

1  A  similar  verse  with  openly   erotic  imagery  is  ascribed  to  A6vaghos.a  in  Kvs  No.  2. 

2  One  fragment,  at  least,  of  a  stanza  is  clearly  erotic  in  subject  in  its  description  of  the 
morning  :  varatanu  sarypravadanti  hukkutah  "0  fair-limbed  one,  the  cocks  unite  to  proclaim  ". 
The  full  verse  is  fortunately  supplied  twelve  centuries  later  by  Ks.emendra,  who  quotes  it  In 

his  Aucitya-vicara  but  attributes  it,  wrongly  to  KumSradasa. 


of  the  love-god  as  Mara  or  Death  gives  way  to  that  of  the  flower- 
arrowed  deity,  who  is  anticipated  in  the  Atharva-veda  and  is 
established  in  the  Epics,  but  whose  appearance,  names  and 
personality  are  revived  and  developed  in  the  fullest  measure  in 
the  Kavya.  The  widely  diffused  Kavya  manner  and  its  prevail- 
ing love-interest  invade  even  the  domain  of  technical  sciences  ; 
and  it  is  remarkable  that  the  mathematician  Bbaskaragupta  not 
only  uses  elegant  metres  in  his  Lllavatl  but  presents  his  algebrai- 
cal theorems  in  the  form  of  problems  explained  to  a  fair  maiden, 
of  which  the  phraseology  and  imagery  are  drawn  from  the  bees, 
flowers  and  other  familiar  objects  of  Kavya  poetry.  The  celebra- 
tion of  festivals  with  pomp  and  grandeur,  the  amusements  of 
the  court  and  the  people,  the  sports  in  water,  the  game  of 
swing,  the  plucking  of  flowers,  song,  dance,  music,  dramatic 
performances  and  other  diversions,  elaborate  description  of  which 
forms  the  stock-in-trade  of  most  Kavya-poets,  bear  witness  not 
only  to  this  new  sense  of  life  but  also  to  the  general  demand  for 
refinement,  beauty  and  luxury.  The  people  are  capable  of 
enjoying  the  good  things  of  this  world,  while  heartily  believing 
in  the  next.  If  pleasure  with  refinement  is  sought  for  in  life, 
pleasure  with  elegance  is  demanded  in  art.  It  is  natural,  there- 
fore, that  the  poetry  of  this  period  pleases  us  more  than  it  moves; 
for  life  is  seldom  envisaged  in  its  infinite  depth  and  poignancy,  or 
in  its  sublime  heights  of  imaginative  fervour,  but  is  generally 
conceived  in  its  playful  moods  of  vivid  enjoyment  breaking 
forth  into  delicate  little  cameos  of  thought  or  fancy. 

The  dominant  love-motif  of  the  Kavya  is  thus  explained  by 
the  social  environment  in  which  it  grows  and  from  which  alone 
it  can  obtain  recognition .  It  is,  however,  not  court-life  alone 
which  inspires  this  literature.  At  the  centre  of  it  stands  the 
Nagaraka,  the  polished  man  about  town,  whose  culture,  tastes 
and  habits  so  largely  mould  this  literature  that  he  may  be  taken 
to  be  as  typical  of  it  as  the  priest  or  the  philosopher  is  of  the 
literature  of  the  Brahmanas  or  the  Upani^ads.1  Apart  from  the 

1  H.  Qldenberg,  Die  Literal™  des  aUen  Indien,  Stuttgart  und  Berlin,  1908,  pp.  198  f. 


picture  we  get  of  him  in  the  literature  itself,  we  have  a  vivid 
sketch  of  an  early  prototype  of  the  Nagaraka  in  the  Kama-sutra 
or  Aphorism  of  Erotics,  attributed  to  Vatsyayana.  We  are  told 
that  the  well  planned  house  of  the  Nagaraka  is  situated  near  a 
river  or  tank  and  surrounded  by  a  lovely  garden;  in  the  garden 
there  are,  for  amusement  or  repose,  a  summer  house,  a  bower  of 
creepers  with  raised  parterre,  and  a  carpeted  swing  in  a  shady 
spot.  His  living  room,  balmy  with  perfume,  contains  a  bed, 
soft,  white,  fragrant  and  luxuriously  furnished  with  pillows  or 
cushions.  There  is  also  a  couch,  with  a  kind  of  stool  at  the  head, 
on  which  are  placed  pigments,  perfumes,  garlands,  bark  of  citron^ 
canvas  and  a  box  of  paint,  A  lute  hanging  from  an  ivory  peg 
and  a  few  books  are  also  not  forgotten.  On  the  ground  there  is  a 
spittoon,  and  not  far  from  the  couch  a  round  seat  with  raised 
back  and  a  board  for  dice.  The  Nagaraka  spends  his  morning  in 
bathing  and  elaborate  toilet,  applying  ointments  and  perfumes  to 
his  body,  collyriuin  to  his  eyes  and  red  paint  to  his  lips,  chewing 
betel  leaves  and  citron-bark  to  add  fragrance  to  his  mouth,  and 
looking  at  himself  in  the  glass.  After  breakfast  he  listens  to 
his  parrots,  kept  in  a  cage  outside  his  room,  witnesses  ram  and 
cock  fights  and  takes  part  in  other  diversions  which  he  enjoys 
with  his  friends  and  companions.  After  a  brief  midday  sleep,  he 
dresses  again,  and  joins  his  friends ;  and  in  the  evening  there 
is  music,  followed  by  joys  of  love.  These  are  the  habitual 
pleasures  of  the  Nagaraka,  but  there  are  also  occasional  rounds  of 
enjoyment,  consisting  of  festivals,  drinking  parties,  plays,  con- 
certs, picnics  in  groves,  excursions  to  parks  or  water-sports  in 
lakes  and  rivers.  There  are  also  social  gatherings,  often  held  in 
the  house  of  the  ladies  of  the  demi-monde,  where  assemble  men 
of  wit  and  talent,  and  where  artistic  and  poetic  topics  are  freely 
discussed.  The  part  played  by  the  accomplished  courtesan  in  the 
polished  society  of  the  time  is  indeed  remarkable ;  and  judging 
from  Vasantasena,1  it  must  be  said  that  in  ancient  India  of  this 

1  Also  the  picture  of  Kamamafijari  in  Ucchvasa  II  of  Darin's    romance;    she  if    a 
typical  couxteian,  but  highly  accomplished  and  e  due  tied. 



period,  as  in  the  Athens  of  Perikles,  her  wealth,  beauty  and 
power,  as  well  as  her  literary  and  artistic  tastes,  assured  for  her 
an  important  social  position.  She  already  appears  as  a  character 
in  the  fragment  of  an  early  Sanskrit  play  discovered  in  Central 
Asia,  and  it  is  not  strange  that  Sudraka  should  take  her  as  the 
heroine  of  his  well  known  drama;  for  her  presence  and  position 
must  have  offered  an  opportunity,  which  is  otherwise  denied  to 
the  Sanskrit  dramatist  (except  through  a  legendary  medium)  of 
depicting  romantic  love  between  persons  free  and  independent. 
The  picture  of  the  Nagaraka  and  his  lady-friend,  as  we  have  it  in 
literature,  is  undoubtedly  heightened,  and  there  is  a  great  deal  of 
the  dandy  and  the  dilettante  in  the  society  which  they  frequent; 
but  we  need  not  doubt  that  there  is  also  much  genuine  culture, 
character  and  refinement.  In  later  times,  the  Nagaraka  degene- 
rates into  a  professional  amourist,  but  originally  he  is  depicted  as 
a  perfect  man  of  the  world,  rich  and  cultivated,  as  well  as  witty, 
polished  and  skilled  in  the  arts,  who  can  appreciate  poetry, 
painting  and  music,  discuss  delicate  problems  in  the  doctrine  of 
love  and  has  an  extensive  experience  of  human,  especially  femi- 
nine, character. 

The  science  of  Erotics,  thus,  exercised  a  profound  influence 
on  the  theory  and  practice  of  the  poetry  of  this  period.  The 
standard  work  of  Vatsyayana  contains,  besides  several  chapters  on 
the  art  and  practice  of  love,  sections  on  the  ways  and  means  of 
winning  and  keeping  a  lover,  on  courtship  and  signs  of  love,  on 
marriage  and  conduct  of  married  life,  and  not  a  little  on  the 
practical  psychology  of  the  emotion  of  love.  On  the  last  men- 
tioned topic  the  science  of  Poetics,  as  embodied  particularly  in 
the  specialised  works  on  the  erotic  Rasa,  went  hand  in  hand;  and 
it  is  almost  impossible  to  appreciate  fully  the  merits,  as  well  as 
the  defects,  of  Sanskrit  love-poetry  without  some  knowledge  of 
the  habits,  modes  of  thought,  literary  traditions  and  fundamental 
poetical  postulates  recorded  in  these  Sastras,  the  mere  allusion  to 
one  of  which  is  enough  to  call  up  some  familiar  idea  or  touch 
some  inner  chord  of  sentiment.  There  is  much  in  these  treatises 


which  gives  us  an  idealised  or  fanciful  picture ;  and  the  existence 
of  the  people  of  whom  they  speak  was  just  as  little  a  prolonged 
debauch  as  a  prolonged  idyll.  There  is  also  a  great  deal  of  scho- 
lastic formalism  which  loves  subtleties  and  minutiae  of  classifica- 
tion. At  the  same  time,  the  works  bear  witness  to  a  considerable 
power  of  observation,  and  succeed  in  presenting  a  skilful  and 
elaborate  analysis  of  the  erotic  emotion,  the  theory  of  which  came 
to  have  an  intimate  bearing  on  the  practice  of  the  poets. 

In  this  connexion  a  reference  should  be  made  to  an  aspect 
of  Sanskrit  love-poetry  which  has  been  often  condemned  as  too 
sensual  or  gross,  namely,  its  highly  intimate  description  of  the 
beauty  of  the  feminine  form  and  the  delights  of  dalliance,  as 
well  as  its  daring  indelicacies  of  expression.  It  should  be  recog- 
nised that  much  of  this  frankness  is  conventional ;  the  Sanskrit 
poet  is  expected  to  show  his  skill  and  knowledge  of  the  Kama- 
3astra  by  his  minute  and  highly  flavoured  descriptions.  But  the 
excuse  of  convention  cannot  altogether  condone  the  finical  yet 
flaunting  sensuality  of  the  elaborate  picture  of  love-sports,  such 
as  we  find  in  Bharavi,  Magha  and  their  many  followers  (includ- 
ing the  composers  of  later  Bhanas)  and  such  as  are  admitted  by 
a  developed  but  deplorable  taste.  Even  the  Indian  critics,  who 
are  not  ordinarily  squeamish,  are  not  sparing  in  their  condemna- 
tion of  some  of  these  passages,  and  take  even  Kalidasa  to  task 
for  depicting  the  love-adventures  of  the  divine  pair  in  his 
Kumara-sambhava.  A  distinction,  however,  must  be  drawn 
between  this  conventional,  but  polished,  and  perhaps  all  the  more 
regrettable,  indecency  of  decadent  poets,  on  the  one  band,  and 
the  exasperatingly  authentic  and  even  blunt  audacities  of  expres- 
sion, on  the  other,  with  which  old-time  authors  season  their 
erotic  compositions.  What  the  latter-day  poets  lack  is  the  naive 
exuberance  or  bonhomie  of  their  predecessors,  their  easy  and 
frank  expression  of  physical  affection  in  its  exceedingly  human 
aspect,  and  their  sincere  realisation  of  primal  sensations,  which 
are  naturally  gross  or  grotesque  being  nearer  to  life.  It  would 
be  unjust  a»d  canting  prudery  to  condemn  these  simpler  moods 


of  passion  and  their  direct  expression,  unless  they  are  meaning- 
lessly  vulgar.  The  point  is  too  often  forgotten  that  what  we 
have  here  is  not  the  love  which  dies  in  dreams,  or  revels  in  the 
mystic  adoration  of  a  phantom-woman.  It  does  not  talk  about 
ideals  and  gates  of  heaven  but  walks  on  the  earth  and  speaks  of 
the  passionate  hunger  of  the  body  and  the  exquisite  intoxication 
of  the  senses.  The  poets  undoubtedly  put  a  large  emphasis  on 
the  body,  and  love  appears  more  as  self-fulfilment  than  as  self- 
abnegation  ;  but  in  this  preference  of  the  body  there  is  nothing 
debasing  or  prurient.  The  essential  realism  of  passion,  which 
cannot  live  on  abstraction  but  must  have  actualities  to  feed  upon, 
does  not  absolve  a  truly  passionate  poet  from  the  contact  of  the 
senses  and  touch  of  the  earth  ;  but  from  this,  his  poetry  springs 
Antaeus-like  into  fuller  being.  Modern  taste  may,  with  reason, 
deprecate  the  intimate  description  of  personal  beauty  and  delights 
of  love  in  later  Sanskrit  poetry,  but  even  here  it  must  be  clearly 
understood  that  there  is  very  seldom  any  ignoble  motive  behind 
its  conventional  sensuousness,  that  there  is  no  evidence  of 
delight  in  uncleanness,  and  that  it  always  conforms  to  the 
standard  of  artistic  beauty.  Comparing  Sanskrit  poetry  with 
European  classical  literature  in  this  respect,  a  Western  critic 
very  rightly  remarks  that  "  there  is  all  the  world  of  difference 
between  what  we  find  in  the  great  poets  of  India  and  the  frank 
delight  of  Martial  and  Petronius  in  their  descriptions  of  immoral 
scenes."  The  code  of  propriety  as  well  as  of  prudery  differs 
with  different  people,  but  the  Sanskrit  poet  seldom  takes  leave 
of  his  delicacy  of  feeling  and  his  sense  of  art ;  and  even  if  he 
is  ardent  and  luxuriant,  he  is  more  openly  exhilarating  than 
offensively  cynical. 

The  Sanskrit  poet  cannot  also  forget  that,  beside  his 
elegant  royal  "patron  and  the  cultivated  Nagaraka,  he  had  a  more 
exacting  audience  in  the  Easika  or  Sahrdaya,  the  man  of  taste, 
the  connoisseur,  whose  expert  literary  judgment  is  the  final  test 
of  his  work.  Such  a  critic,  we  are  told,  must  not  only  possess 
technical  knowledge  of  the  requirements  of  poetry,  but  also  a 


fine  capacity  of  aesthetic  enjoyment,  born  of  wide  culture 
and  sympathetic  identification  with  the  feelings  and  ideas  of 
the  poet.  The  Indian  ideal  of  the  excellence  of  poetry  is 
closely  associated  with  a  peculiar  condition  of  artistic  enjoy- 
ment, known  as  Rasa,  the  suggestion  of  which  is  taken  to  be 
its  function,  and  in  relation  to  which  the  appreciator  is  called 
Rasika.  It  is  a  reflex  of  the  sentiment,  which  has  been  suggest- 
ed in  the  poem,  in  the  mind  of  the  appreciator,  as  a  relishable 
condition  of  impersonal  enjoyment  resulting  from  the  idealised 
creation  of  poetry.  The  evoking  of  sentiment,  therefore,  is 
considered  to  be  the  most  vital  function  of  poetry  ;  and  stress  is 
put  more  and  more  on  sentimental  composition  to  the  exclusion 
of  the  descriptive  or  ornamental.  But  here  also  the  theorists 
are  emphatic  that  in  the  art  of  suggesting  this  sentimental 
enjoyment  in  the  reader's  mind,  the  poetic  imagination  must 
show  itself.  As  Oldenberg  1  remarks  with  insight,  the  Indian 
theorists  permit  intellectual  vigour  and  subtlety  ^  the  masculine 
beauty,  to  stand  behind  that  of  the  purely  feminine  enjoyment 
born  of  the  finest  sensibility.  Both  these  traits  are  found  in  the 
literature  from  the  beginning — the  idea  of  delectable  rapture 
side  by  side  with  a  strong  inclination  towards  sagacity  and 
subtlety.  It  is  true  that  the  dogmatic  formalism  of  a  scholastic 
theory  of  poetry  sinks  to  the  level  of  a  cold  and  monotonously 
inflated  rhetoric ;  but  the  theorists  are  at  the  same  time  not 
blind  to  finer  issues,  nor  are  they  indifferent  to  the  supreme 
excellence  of  real  poetry  *  and  the  aesthetic  pleasure  resulting 
from  it.  They  take  care  to  add  that,  despite  dogmas  and 
formulas,  the  poetic  imagination  must  manifest  itself  as  the 
ultimate  source  of  poetic  charm.  The  demands  that  are  made 
of  the  poet  are,  thus,  very  exacting;  he  must  not  only  be 
initiated  into  the  intricacies  of  theoretic  requirements  but 
must  also  possess  poetic  imagination  (Sakti),  aided  by  culture 

1  Die  Literatur  des  alien  Indian,  p.  207  f. 

2  Of.  Anandavardhana,  p.  29  :    asminn    ati'Vicitra-kavipararppara-vahini  sarfi$&re  K&li* 
dasa-prabhrtayo  dvitra  paflcatQ,  va  maliakavaya  ttt  g  any  ate. 

4— 1343B 


(Vyutpatti)  and  practice  (Abhyasa).  Even  if  we  do  not  rely 
upon  Rajagekhara's  elaborate  account  of  the  studies  which 
go  to  make  up  the  finished  poet,  there  can  be  no  doubt 
that  considerable  importance  is  attached  to  the  "  education'1  of 
the  poet,1  whose  inborn  gifts  alone  would  not  suffice,  and  for 
whose  practical  guidance  in  the  devices  of  the  craft,  convenient 
manuals 2  are  elaborately  composed. 

It  is  not  necessary  to  believe  that  the  poet  is  actually  an 
adept  in  the  long  list  of  arts  and  sciences8  in  which  he  is  required 
to  be  proficient ;  but  it  is  clear  that  he  is  expected  to  possess  (and 
be  is  anxious  to  show  that  he  does  possess)  a  vast  fund  of  useful 
information  in  the  various  branches  of  learning.  Literature  is 
regarded  more  and  more  as  a  learned  pursuit  and  as  the  product 
of  much  cultivation.  No  doubt,  a  distinction  is  made  between 
the  Vidvat  and  the  Vidagdha,  between  a  man  versed  in  belles- 
lettres  and  a  dry  and  tasteless  scholar ;  but  it  soon  becomes  a 
distinction  without  much  difference.  The  importance  of  inspira- 
tion is  indeed  recognised,  but  the  necessity  of  appealing  to  a 
learned  audience  is  always  there.  It  is  obvious  that  in  such  an 
atmosphere  the  literature  becomes;  rich  and  refined,  but  natural 

i  See  F.  W.  Thomas,  Bhandarkar  Com,n.  Volume,  p.  397  f ;  S.  K.  De,  Sanskrit  Poetics, 
II,  pp.  357  f,  42  f.n.,  52;  Keith,  HSL,  pp.  &38-41.  Raja^ekbara  gives  an  interesting,  but 
gome  what  heightened,  picture  of  the  daily  life  and  duties  of  the  poet,  who  is  presented  as  a 
man  of  fashion  and  wealth,  of  purity  in  body,  mind  and  speech,  but  assiduous  and  hard- 
working  at  his  occupation. 

*  These  works  furnish  elaborate  hints  on  the  construction  of  different  metres,  on  the  dis- 
play of  word-skill  of  various  kinds,  on  jeux  de  mot*  and  tricks  of  producing  double  meaning, 
conundrums,  riddles,  alliterative  and  chiming  verses,  and  various  other  devices  of  verbal  in- 
genuity. They  give  instructions  on  the  employment  of  similes  and  enumerate  a  large  number 
of  .ordinary  parallelisms  for  that  purpose.  They  give  lists  of  Kavi-samayas  or  conventions 
observed  by  poets,  and  state  in  detail  what  to  describe  and  how  to  describe. 

5  The  earliest  of  such  lists  is  given  by  Bbamaha  I.  9,  which  substantially  agrees 
with  that  of  Rudrata  (1. 18^ ;  but  Vamana  (1.8.20-21)  deals  with  the  topic  in  some  detail.  The 
longest  list  includes  Grammar,  Lexicon,  Metrics,  Ehetoric,  Arts,  Dramaturgy," Morals,  Erotics 
Politics*  Law,  Logic,  Legends,  Religion  and  Philosophy,  as  well  as  such  miscellaneous  sub- 
jects as  Medicine,  Botany,  Mineralogy,  knowledge  of  precious  stones,  Elephant-lore,  Veteri- 
nary science,  Art  of  War  and  Weapons,  Art  of  Gambling,  Magic,  Astrology  and  Astronomy, 
knowledge  of  Vedic  rites  and  ceremonies,  and  of  the  ways  of  the  world, 


ease  and  spontaneity  are  sacrificed   for   studied  effects,   and  re- 
finement leads  perforce  to  elaboration. 

The  Kavya,  therefore,  appears  almost  from  its  very  begin- 
ning as  the  careful  work  of  a  trained  and  experienced  specialist. 
The  technical  analysis  of  a  somewhat  mechanical  Ehetoric  leads 
to  the  working  of  the  rules  and  means  of  the  poetic  art  into  a 
system ;  and  this  is  combined  with  a  characteristic  love  of  adorn- 
ment, which  demands  an  ornamental  fitting  out  of  word  and 
thought.  The  difficulty  of  the  language,  as  well  as  its  com- 
plexity, naturally  involves  prolonged  endeavour  and  practice  for 
effective  mastery,  but  it  also  affords  endless  opportunity  and 
temptation  for  astonishing  feats  of  verbal  jugglery,  which 
perhaps  would  not  be  possible  in  any  other  language  less  accommo- 
dating than  Sanskrit.  Leaving  aside  the  grotesque  experiments 
of  producing  verses  in  the  shape  of  a  sword,  wheel  or  lotus,  or  of 
stanzas  which  have  the  same  sounds  when  read  forwards  or  back- 
wards, and  other  such  verbal  absurdities,  the  tricks  in  poetic 
form  and  decorative  devices  are  undoubtedly  clever,  but  they  are 
often  overdone.  They  display  learned  ingenuity  more  than  real 
poetry,  and  the  forced  use  of  the  language  is  often  a  barrier  to 
quick  comprehension.  Some  poets  actually  go  to  the  length  of 
boasting  1  that  their  poem  is  meant  for  the  learned  and  not  for 
the  dull-witted,  and  is  understandable  only  by  means  of  a  com- 
mentary.2 The  involved  construction,  recondite  vocabulary , 
laboured  embellishment,  strained  expression,  and  constant  search 
after  conceits,  double  meanings  and  metaphors  undoubtedly 
justify  their  boasting;  but  they  evince  an  exuberance  of  fancy 
and  erudition  rather  than  taste,  judgment  and  real  feeling. 
This  tendency  is  more  and  more  encouraged  by  the  elaborate 
rules  and  definitions  of  Khetoric,  until  inborn  poetic  fervour  is 

1  E.g.   Blia\ti,  XXII.  34 ;  vyakhya-gamyam  idam  kdvyam  utsavah  sttdhiyam  a/am  \   hatt 
durmedhasat  cfomin  vidvat-priyataya  naya  II .      Here  the  Vidagdha  is  ignored  deliberately  for 
the  Vidvaf. 

2  Some   authors  had,  in  fact,  to  write  their  own  commentaries  to  make  themselves  in- 
telligible.   Even  Xnandavardhana   who  deprecates  Buch  tricks  in  his  theoretical  work  does 
not  steer  clear  of  them  in  his  Dem-tataka. 


entirely  obscured  by  technicalities  of  expression.  In  actual 
practice,  no  doubt,  gifted  poets  aspire  to  untrammelled  utterance; 
but  the  general  tendency  degenerates  towards  a  slavish  adherence 
to  rules,  which  results  in  the  overloading  of  a  composition  by 
complicated  and  laboured  expressions. 

Comments  have  often  been  made  on  the  limited  range  and 
outlook  of  Sanskrit  literature  and  on  the  conventionality  of  its 
themes.  It  is  partly  the  excessive  love  of  form  and  expression 
which  leads  to  a  corresponding  neglect  of  content  and  theme. 
It  is  of  little  account  if  the  subject-matter  is  too  thin  and 
threadbare  to  support  a  long  poem,  or  if  the  irrelevant  and  often 
commonplace  descriptions  and  reflections  hamper  the  course  of 
the  narrative;  what  does  matter  is  that  the  diction  is  elaborately 
perfect,  polished  and  witty,  and  that  the  poem  conforms  to  the 
recognised  standard,1  and  contains  the  customary  descriptions, 
however  digressive,  of  spring,  dawn,  sunset,  moonrise,  water- 
sports,  drinking  bouts,  amorous  practices,  diplomatic  consulta- 
tions and  military  expeditions,  which  form  the  regular  stock-in- 
trade  of  this  ornate  poetry.  A  large  number  of  so-called  poetic 
conventions  (Kavi-samayas)2  are  established  by  theorists 
and  mechanically  repeated  by  poets,  while  descriptions  of 
things,  qualities  and  actions  are  stereotyped  by  fixed  epithets, 
cliche  phrases  and  restricted  formulas.  Even  the  various  motifs 
which  occur  in  legends,  fables  and  plays8  are  worn  out  by  repeti- 

J  See  Dan<}in,  Kavyadarsa,  1. 14-19 ;  Visvanatba,  Sdhitya-darpana,  VI.  316-25,  eta. 

2  For  a  list  of  poetic  conventions  see  RajaSekhara,  Kavya-mimamsa,  XIV ;  Amaraaimha, 
Kavya-kalpalata,  I.  5 ;  Sahitya-darpana,  VII.  23-24,  etc.    Borne  of  the  commonest  artificial  con- 
ventions are  :    the  parting  of  the  Cakravaka  bird  at  night  from  its  mate ;  the  Cakora  feeding 
on  the  moonbeams;   the  blooming  of  the  As*oka  at  the  touch  of  a  lady 'a  feet;  fame  and 
laughter  described  as  white ;  the  flower-bow  and  bee-string  of  the  god  of  love,  etc.    Originally 
the  writers  on  poetics  appear  to  have  regarded  these  as  established  by  the  bold  usage  of  the 
poet  (kavi-praudhokti'siddha),  but  they  are  gradually  stereotyped  as  poetical  commonplaces. 

3  Such  as  the  vision  of  the  beloved  in  a  dream,  the  talking  parrot,  the    magic    steed,    the 
fatal  effect  of  an  ascetic's  curse,  transformation  of  shapes,  change  of  sex,  the  art    of    entering 
into  another's  body,  the  voice  in  the  air,  the  token  of  recognition,   royal    love    for    a    lowly 
maiden  and  the  ultimate  discovery  of  her  real  status  as  a  princess,  minute  portraituie  of  the 
heroine's  personal  beauty  and  the  generous  qualities  of  the  hero,    description  of   pangs   of 
thwarted  love  and  sentimental  longing.    M.  Bloomfield  (Festscrift  Ernst  Windi*ch>  Leipzig, 


tion  and  lose  thereby  their  element  of  surprise  and  charm.  The 
question  of  imitation,  borrowing  or  plagiarism1  of  words  or  ideas 
assumes  importance  in  this  connexion  ;  for  it  involves  a  test  of 
the  power  of  clever  reproduction,  or  sometimes  a  criticism  of 
some  weakness  in  the  passages  consciously  appropriated  but 
improved  in  the  course  of  appropriation. 

The  rigidity,  which  these  commonplaces  of  conventional 
rhetoric  acquire,  is  the  result,  as  well  as  the  cause,  of  the  time- 
honoured  tendency  of  exalting  authority  and  discouraging  origi- 
nality, which  is  a  remarkable  characteristic  of  Indian  culture  in 
general  and  of  its  literature  in  particular,  and  which  carries  the 
suppression  of  individuality  too  far.  It  is  in  agreement  with 
this  attitude  that  Sanskrit  Poetics  neglects  a  most  vital  aspect  of 
its  task,  namely,  tfce  study  of  poetry  as  the  individualised  expres- 
sion of  the  poet's  mind,  and  confines  itself  more  or  less  to  a 
normative  doctrine  of  technique,  to  the  formulation  of  laws, 
modes  and  models,  to  the  collection  and  definition  of  facts  and 
categories  and  to  the  teaching  of  the  means  of  poetic  expression. 
This  limitation  not  only  hinders  the  growth  of  Sanskrit  Poetics 
into  a  proper  study  of  Aesthetic,2  but  it  also  stands  in  the  way 
of  a  proper  appreciation  and  development  of  Sanskrit  literature. 
The  theory  almost  entirely  ignores  the  poetic  personality  in  a 
work  of  art,  which  gives  it  its  particular  shape  and  individual 
character.  Sanskrit  Poetics  cannot  explain  satisfactorily,  for 

1914,  pp.  349-61;  JAOS,  XXXVI,  1917,  p.  51-89;  XL,  1920,  pp.  1-24;  XLIV,  1924,  pp.  202-42), 
W.Norman  Brown  (JAOS,  XLVII,  1927,  pp.  3-24),  Penzer  (in  his  ed.  of  Tawney's  trs.  of 
Katha-sarit-safjara,  'Ocean  of  Story ')  and  others  have  studied  in  detail  some  of  these  motifs 
recurring  in  Sanskrit  literature.  Also  see  Bloomfield  in  Amer.  Journ.  of  Philology,  XL,  pp. 
1-86 ;  XLI,  pp.  309-86 ;  XLIV,  pp.  97-133, 193-229 ;  XLVII,  pp.  205-233 ;  W.  N.  Brown  in  ibid., 
XL,  pp.  423-30 ;  XLTI,  pp.122-51 ;  XLIII,  pp .  289-317 ;  Studien  in  Honour  of  M.  Bloomfield, 
pp.  89-104,  211-24  (Ruth  Norton)  ;  B.  H.  Burlingaine  in  JRAS,  1917,  pp.  429-67,  etc. 

1  The  question  ia  discussed  by   inandavardhana,  Dhvanyaloka,  III.  12  f. ;  Raja&khara 
Kavya-mimattisa,  XI  f ;  Ksemendra,  Kavikanthabharana,  II,  1 ;  Hemacandra,  Katyanu6asana 
pp.  8  f .  See   S.  K.  De,  Sanskrit  Poetics,  II,  pp.  362,  373. 

2  See  S.  K,  De,  Sanskrit  Poetics  as  a  Study  of   Aesthetic  in  Dacca  University  Studies, 
Vol.  1,  No.  2,  pp.  80-124. 


instance,  the  simple  question  as  to  why  the  work  of  one  poet  is 
not  the  same  in  character  as  that  of  another,  or  why  two  works 
of  the  same  poet  are  not  the  same.  To  the  Sanskrit  theorist  a 
composition  is  a  work  of  art  if  it  fulfils  the  prescribed  require- 
ments of  'qualities,'  of  'ornaments,'  of  particular  arrangements 
of  words  to  suggest  a  sense  or  a  sentiment ;  it  is  immaterial 
whether  the  work  in  question  is  Raghu~vam,$a  or  Naisadha.  The 
main  difference  which  he  will  probably  see  between  these  two 
works  will  probably  consist  of  the  formal  employment  of  this  or 
that  mode  of  diction,  or  in  their  respective  skill  of  suggesting 
this  or  that  meaning  of  the  words.  The  theorists  never  bother 
themselves  about  the  poetic  imagination,  which  gives  each  a 
distinct  and  unique  shape  by  a  fusion  of  impressions  into  an 
organic,  and  not  a  mechanic,  whole.  No  doubt,  they  solemnly 
affirm  the  necessity  of  Pratibha  or  poetic  imagination,  but  in 
their  theories  the  Pratibha  does  not  assume  any  important  or 
essential  role ;  and  in  practical  application  they  go  further  and 
speak  of  making  a  poet  into  a  poet.  But  it  is  forgotten  that  a 
work  of  art  is  the  expression  of  individuality,  and  that  individua- 
lity never  repeats  itself  nor  conforms  to  a  prescribed  mould.  It 
is  hardly  recognised  that  what  appeals  to  us  in  a  poem  is  the 
poetic  personality  which  reveals  itself  in  the  warmth,  movement 
and  integrity  of  imagination  and  expression.  No  doubt,  the  poet 
can  astonish  us  with  his  wealth  of  facts  and  nobility  of  thought, 
or  with  his  cleverness  in  the  manipulation  of  the  language,  but 
this  is  not  what  we  ask  of  a  poet.  What  we  want  is  the  expres- 
sion of  a  poetic  mind,  in  contact  with  which  our  minds  may  be 
moved.  If  this  is  wanting,  we  call  his  work  dull,  cold  or  flat, 
and  all  the  learning,  thought  or  moralising  in  the  world  cannot 
save  a  work  from  being  a  failure.  The  Sanskrit  theorists  justly 
remark  that  culture  and  skill  should  assist  poetic  power  or  per- 
sonality to  reveal  itself  in  its  proper  form,  but  what  they  fail  to 
emphasise  is  that  any  amount  of  culture  and  skill  cannot  'make' 
a  poet,  and  that  a  powerful  poetic  personality  must  justify  a  work 
of  art  by  itself. 


The  result  is  that  Sanskrit  poetry  is  made  to  conform  to 
certain  fixed  external  standard  attainable  by  culture  and  practice ; 
and  the  poetic  personality  or  imagination,  cramped  within  pres- 
cribed limits,  is  hardly  allowed  the  fullest  scope  or  freedom  to 
create  new  forms  of  beauty.  Although  the  rhetoricians  put 
forward  a  theory  of  idealised  enjoyment  as  the  highest  object  of 
poetry,  yet  the  padagogic  and  moralistic  objects  are  enumerated 
in  unbroken  tradition.  In  conformity  with  the  learned  and 
scholastic  atmosphere  in  which  it  flourishes,  poetry  is  valued  for 
the  knowledge  it  brings  or  the  lessons  it  inculcates,  and  is 
regarded  as  a  kind  of  semi-3astra;  while  the  technical  analysis  and 
authority  of  the  rhetorician  tend  to  eliminate  the  personality  of 
the  poet  by  mechanising  poetry.  The  exaltation  of  formal  skill 
and  adherence  to  the  banalities  of  a  formal  rhetoric  do  not 
sufficiently  recognise  that  words  and  ornaments,  as  symbols, 
are  inseparable  from  the  poetic  imagination,  and  that, 
as  such,  they  are  not  fixed  but  mobile,  not  an  embalmed 
collection  of  dead  abstractions,  but  an  ever  elusive  series  of 
living  particulars.  Sanskrit  literature  is  little  alive  to  these 
considerations,  and  accepts  a  normative  formulation  of  poetic 
expression.  But  for  the  real  poet,  as  for  the  real  speaker,  there 
is  hardly  an  armoury  of  ready-made  weapons  ;  he  forges  his 
own  weapons  to  fight  his  own  particular  battles. 

It  must  indeed  be  admitted  that  the  influence  of  the  theorists 
on  the  latter-day  poets  was  not  an  unmixed  good.  While  the 
poetry  gained  in  niceties  and  subtleties  of  expression,  it  lost 
a  great  deal  of  its  unconscious  freshness  and  spontaneity.  It 
is  too  often  flawed  by  the  very  absence  of  flaws,  and  its  want 
of  imperfection  makes  it  coldly  perfect.  One  can  never  deny 
that  the  poet  is  still  a  sure  and  impeccable  master  of  his  craft, 
but  he  seldom  moves  or  transports.  The  pictorial  effect,  the 
musical  cadence  and  the  wonderful  spell  of  language  are  undoubted, 
but  the  poetry  is  more  exquisite  than  passionate,  more  studied 
and  elegant  than  limpid  and  forceful.  We  have  heard  so  much 
about  the  artificiality  and  tediousness  of  Sanskrit  classical 


poetry  that  it  is  not  necessary  to  emphasise  the  point  ;  but  the 
point  which  has  not  been  sufficiently  emphasised  is  that  the 
Sanskrit  poets  often  succeed  in  getting  out  of  their  very  narrow 
and  conventional  material  such  beautiful  effects  that  criticism 
is  almost  afraid  to  lay  its  cold  dry  finger  on  these  fine  blossoms 
of  fancy.  It  should  not  be  forgotten  that  this  literature  is  not 
the  spontaneous  product  of  an  uncritical  and  ingenuous  age, 
but  that  it  is  composed  for  a  highly  cultured  audience.  It  pre- 
supposes a  psychology  and  a  rhetoric  which  have  been  reduced 
to  a  system,  and  which  possesses  a  peculiar  phraseology  and  a 
set  of  conceits  of  their  own.  We,  therefore,  meet  over  and 
over  again  with  the  same  tricks  of  expression,  the  same  strings 
of  nouns  and  adjectives,  the  same  set  of  situations,  the  same 
groups  of  conceits  and  the  same  system  of  emotional  analysis. 
In  the  lesser  poets  the  sentiment  and  expression  are  no  longer 
fresh  and  varied  but  degenerate  into  rigid  artistic  conventions. 
But  the  greater  poets  very  often  work  up  even  these  romantic 
commonplaces  and  agreeable  formulas  into  new  shapes  of  beauty. 
Even  in  the  artificial  bloom  and  perfection  there  is  almost  always 
a  strain  of  the  real  and  ineffable  tone  of  poetry.  It  would 
seem,  therefore,  that  if  we  leave  aside  the  mere  accidents  of 
poetry,  there  is  no  inherent  lack  of  grasp  upon  its  realities.  It 
is  admitted  that  the  themes  are  narrow,  the  diction  and  imagery 
are  conventional,  and  the  ideas  move  in  a  fixed  groove  ;  but  the 
true  poetic  spirit  is  not  always  wanting,  and  it  is  able  to  trans- 
mute the  rhetorical  and  psychological  banalities  into  fine  things 
of  art. 

The  Sanskrit  poet,  for  instance,  seldom  loses  an  opportunity 
of  making  a  wonderful  use  of  the  sheer  beauty  of  words  and 
their  inherent  melody,  of  which  Sanskrit  is  so  capable.  The 
production  of  fine  sound-effects  by  a  delicate  adjustment  of  word 
and  sense  is  an  art  which  is  practised  almost  to  prefection.  It 
cannot  be  denied  that  some  poets  are  industrious  pedants  in 
their  strict  conformity  to  rules  and  perpetrate  real  atrocities  by 
their  lack  of  subtlety  and  taste  in  matching  the  sense  to 


the  sound ;  but,  generally  speaking,  one  must  agree  with  the 
appreciative  remarks  of  a  Western  critic  that  "  the  classical 
poets  of  India  have  a  sensitiveness  to  variations  of  sound,  to 
which  literatures  of  other  countries  afford  few  parallels,  and  theii 
delicate  combinations  are  a  source  of  never-failing  joy".  The 
extraordinary  flexibility  of  the  language  and  complete  mastery 
over  it  make  this  possible ;  and  the  theory  which  classifies 
Sanskrit  diction  on  the  basis  of  sound-effects  and  prescribes 
careful  rules  about  them  is  not  altogether  futile  or  pedantic. 
One  of  the  means  elaborately  employed  for  achieving  this  end 
is  the  use  of  alliteration  and  assonance  of  various  kinds.  Such 
verbal  devices,  no  doubt,  become  flat  or  fatiguing  in  meaning- 
less repetition,  but  in  skilled  hands  they  produce  remarkable 
effects  which  are  perhaps  not  attainable  to  the  same  extent  in 
any  other  language.  Similar  remarks  apply  to  the  fondness 
for  paronomasia  or  double  meaning,  which  the  uncommon 
resources  of  Sanskrit  permit.  In  languages  like  English, 
punning  lends  itself  chiefly  to  comic  effects  and  witticisms  or, 
as  in  Shakespeare1!  to  an  occasional  flash  of  dramatic  feeling; 
but  in  classical  languages  it  is  capable  of  serious  employment  as  a 
fine  artistic  device.2  It  is  true  that  it  demands  an  intellectual 
strain  disproportionate  to  the  aesthetic  pleasure,  and  becomes 
tiresome  and  ineffective  in  the  incredible  and  incessant  torturing 
of  the  language  found  in  such  lengthy  triumphs  of  misplaced 
ingenuity  as  those  of  Subandhu  and  Kaviraja  ;  but  sparingly 
and  judiciously  used,  the  puns  are  often  delightful  in  their  terse 
brevity  and  twofold  appropriateness.  The  adequacy  of  the 
language  and  its  wonderful  capacity  for  verbal  melody  are  also 
utilised  by  the  Sanskrit  poet  in  a  large  number  of  lyrical  measures 
of  great  complexity,  which  are  employed  with  remarkable  skill 
and^ense  of  rhythm  in  creating  an  unparalleled  series  of  musical 

i    Merchant  of  Venice,  IV.  1, 123 ;  Julius  Caeser,  I.  2, 156  (Globe  Ed.), 
1    C/.  Darin's  dictum  :  ttesali  pttsnati  sarv&su  prayo  vakrokii*u  triyam. 



The  elegance  and  picturesqueness  of  diction  are,   again, 
often  enhanced  by  the  rolling  majesty  of   long  compounds,   the 
capacity   for    which  is    inherent  in  the  genius    of    Sanskrit 
and    developed     to   the    fullest  extent.     The  predilection    for 
long    compounds,   especially   in   ornate  prose,   is  indeed  often 
carried     to    absurd   excesses,    and    is   justly   criticised  for   the 
construction  of  vast  sentences  extending  over  several  pages  and 
for  the  trick  of  heaping  epithet  upon  epithet  in  sesquipedalian 
grandeur  ;  but  the  misuse  of  this  effective  instrument  of  synthetic 
expression  should  not  make  us  forget  the  extraordinary   power  of 
compression   and   production    of   unified   picture   which    it  can 
efficiently    realise.     It    permits    a    subtle    combination    of  the 
different  elements  of  a  thought  or  a  picture  into  a  perfect  whole, 
in  which  the  parts   coalesce   by  inner   necessity  ;  and  it  has  been 
rightly   remarked   that   "  the   impression   thus   created   on   the 
mind  cannot  be  reproduced  in  an  analytical  speech    like  English, 
in  which  it  is  necessary   to  convey   the   same   content,  not  in  a 
single  sentence  syntactically  merged  into  a  whole,  like  the  idea 
which  it  expresses,  but  in  a  series  of   loosely  connected  predica- 
tions ' f .     Such  well-knit  compactness  prevents  the  sentences  from 
being  jerky,  flaccid  or  febrile,  and  produces   undoubted   sonority, 
dignity  and  magnificence  of  diction,  for  which  Sanskrit  is  always 
remarkable,  and  which  cannot  be  fully   appreciated   by  one  who 
is  accustomed  to  modern  analytical  languages. 

The  inordinate  length  of  ornate  prose  sentences  is  set  off  by 
the  brilliant  condensation  of  style  which  is  best  seen  in  the 
gnomic  and  epigrammatic  stanzas,  expressive  of  maxims  of 
sententious  wisdom  with  elaborate  terseness  and  flash  of  wit. 
The  compact  neatness  of  paronomasia,  antithesis  and  other  verbal 
figures  often  enhances  the  impressiveness  of  these  pithy  sayings; 
and  their  vivid  precision  is  not  seldom  rounded  off  by  appropriate 
similes  and  metaphors.  The  search  for  metaphorical  expression 
is  almost  a  weakness  with  the  Sanskrit  poets  ;  but,  unless  it  is  a 
deliberately  pedantic  artifice,  the  force  and  beauty  with  which  it 
is  employed  canpot  be  easily  denied.  The  various  forjns  of 


metaphors  and  similes  are  often  a  source  of  fine  surprise  by  their 
power  of  happy  phraseology  and  richness  of  poetical  fancy. 
The  similarities,  drawn  from  a  fairly  wide  range,  often  display 
a  real  freshness  of  observation,  though  some  of  them  become 
familiar  conventions  in  later  poetry  ;  and  comparison  in  some 
form  or  other  becomes  one  of  the  most  effective  means  of 
stimulating  the  reader's  imagination  by  suggesting  more  than 
what  is  said.  When  the  similarity  is  purely  verbal,  it  is  witty 
and  neat,  but  the  poet  seldom  forgets  to  fit  his  comparison  to  the 
emotional  content  or  situation. 

Closely  connected  with  this  is  the  power  of  miniature 
painting,  compressed  in  a  solitary  stanza,  which  is  a  charac- 
teristic of  the  Kavya  and  in  which  the  Sanskrit  poets  excel  to  a 
marvellous  degree.  In  the  epic,  the  necessity  of  a  continuous 
recitation,  which  should  flow  evenly  and  should  not  demand  too 
great  a  strain  on  the  audience,  makes  the  poet  alive  to  the  unity 
of  effect  to  be  produced  by  subordinating  the  consecutive  stanzas 
to  the  narrative  as  a  whole.  The  method  which  is  evolved  in  the 
Kavya  is  different.  No  doubt,  early  poets  like  Agvagbosa  and 
Kalidasa  do  not  entirely  neglect  effective  narration,  but  the  later 
Kavya  attaches  hardly  any  importance  to  the  theme  or  story  and 
depends  almost  exclusively  on  the  appeal  of  art  finically  displayed 
in  individual  stanzas.  The  Kavya  becomes  a  series  of  miniature 
poems  or  methodical  verso-paragraphs,  loosely  strung  on  the 
thread  of  the  narrative.  Each  clear-cut  stanza  is  a  separate 
unit  in  itself,  both  grammatically  and  in  sense,  and  presents  a 
perfect  little  picture.  Even  though  spread  out  over  several 
cantos,  the  Kavya  really  takes  the  form,  not  of  a  systematic  and 
well  knit  poem,  but  of  single  stanzas,  standing  by  themselves^ 
in  which  the  poet  delights  to  depict  a  single  idea,  a  single  phase 
of  emotion,  or  a  single  situation  in  a  complete  and  daintily 
finished  form.  If  this  tradition,  of  the  stanza-form  is  not  fully 
satisfactory  in  a  long  composition,  where  unity  of  effect  is 
necessary,  it  is  best  exemplified  in  the  verse-portion  of  the 
dramas^,  as  well  as  in  the  Satakas,  such  as  those  of  Bhartfhari  and 


Amaru,  in  which  the  Sanskrit  poetry  of  love,  resignation  or 
reflection  finds  the  most  effective  expression  in  its  varying  moods 
and  phases.  Such  miniature  painting,  in  which  colours  are 
words,  is  a  task  of  no  small  difficulty  ;  for  it  involves  the  perfect 
expression,  within  very  restricted  limits,  of  a  pregnant  idea  or  an 
intense  emotion  with  a  few  precise  and  elegant  touches. 

All  this  will  indicate  that  the  Sanskrit  poet  is  more  directly 
concerned  with  the  consummate  elegance  of  his  art  than  with  any 
message  or  teaching  which  he  is  called  upon  to  deliver.  It  is 
indeed  not  correct  to  say  that  the  poet  does  not  take  any  interest 
in  the  great  problems  of  life  and  destiny,  but  this  is  seldom  writ 
large  upon  his  work  of  art.  Except  in  the  drama  which 
comprehends  a  wider  and  fuller  life,  he  is  content  with  the 
elegant  symbols  of  reality  rather  than  strive  for  the  reality  itself ; 
and  his  work  is  very  often  nothing  more  than  a  delicate  blossom 
of  fancy,  fostered  in  a  world  of  tranquil  calm.  Nothing  ruffles 
the  pervading  sense  of  harmony  and  concord  ;  and  neither  deep 
tragedy  nor  great  laughter  is  to  be  found  in  its  fulness  in  Sanskrit 
literature.  There  is  very  seldom  any  trace  of  strife  or  discontent, 
clash  of  contrary  passions  and  great  conflicts  ;  nor  is  there  any 
outburst  of  rugged  feelings,  any  great  impetus  for  energy  and 
action,  any  rich  sense  for  the  concrete  facts  and  forces  of  life. 
There  is  also  no  perverse  attitude  which  clothes  impurity  in  the 
garb  of  virtue,  or  poses  a  soul-weariness  in  the  service  of  callous 
wantonness.  Bitter  earnestness,  grim  violence  of  darker  passions, 
or  savage  cynicism  never  mar  the  even  tenor  and  serenity  of  these 
artistic  compositions  which,  with  rare  exceptions,  smooth  away 
every  scar  and  wrinkle  which  might  have  existed.  It  is  not 
that  sorrow  or  suffering  or  sin  is  denied,  but  the  belief  in  the 
essential  rationality  of  the  world  makes  the  poet  idealistic  in 
his  outlook  and  placidly  content  to  accept  the  life  around 
himt  while  the  purely  artistic  attitude  makes  him  transcend  the 
merely  personal.  The  Sanskrit  poet  is  undoubtedly  pessimistic 
in  his  belief  in  the  inexorable  law  of  Karrnan  and  rebirth,  but 
his  ttnliroited  pessimism  with  regard  to  this  world  is  toned  down 


by  his  unlimited  optimism  with  regard  to  the  next.  It  fosters 
in  him  a  stoical  resignation,  an  epicurean  indifference  and  a 
mystic  hope  and  faith,  which  paralyse  personal  energy,  suppress 
the  growth  of  external  life  and  replace  originality  by  sub- 
mission. On  the  other  hand,  this  is  exactly  the  atmosphere 
which  is  conducive  to  idealised  creation  and  serenity  of 
purely  artistic  accomplishment,  in  which  Sanskrit  poetry 

This  complacent  attitude  towards  life  falls  in  with  the  view 
of  Sanskrit  Poetics  which  distinguishes  the  actual  world  from 
the  world  of  poetry,  where  the  hard  and  harsh  facts  of  life 
dissolve  themselves  into  an  imaginative  system  of  pleasing  fictions. 
It  results  in  an  impersonalised  and  ineffable  aesthetic  enjoyment, 
from  which  every  trace  of  its  component  or  material  is  obliterated. 
In  other  words,  love  or  grief  is  no  longer  experienced  as  love  or 
grief  in  its  disturbing  poignancy,  but  as  pure  artistic  sentiment 
of  blissful  relish  evoked  by  the  idealised  poetic  creation.  To 
suggest  this  delectable  condition  of  the  mind,  to  which  the  name 
of  Rasa  is  given  is  regarded  both  by  theory  and  practice  to  be 
the  aim  of  a  work  of  art ;  and  it  is  seldom  thought  necessary 
to  mirror  life  by  a  direct  portrayal  of  fact,  incident  or  character. 
It  is  for  this  reason  that  the  delineation  of  sentiment  becomes 
important — and  even  disproportionately  important — in  poetry, 
drama  and  romance ;  and  all  the  resources  of  poetic  art  and 
imagination  are  brought  to  bear  upon  it.  Only  a  secondary  or 
even  nominal  interest  is  attached  to  the  story,  theme;  plot  or 
character,  the  unfolding  of  which  is  often  made  to  wait  till  the 
poet  finishes  his  lavish  sentimental  descriptions  or  his  refined 
outpourings  of  sentimental  verse  and  prose. 

This  over-emphasis  on  impersonalised  poetic  sentiment  and 
its  idealised  enjoyment  tends  to  encourage  grace,  polish  and 
fastidious  technical  finish,  in  which  fancy  has  the  upper 
hand  of  passion  and  ingenuity  takes  the  place  of  feeling.  Except 
perhaps  in  a  poet  like  Bhavabhuti,  we  come  across  very  little  of 
rugged  and  forceful  description,  very  little  of  naturalness  and 


simplicity,  hardly  any  genuine  emotional  directness,  nor  any 
love  for  all  that  is  deep  and  poignant,  as  well  as  grand  and 
awe-inspiring,  in  life  and  nature.  Even  Kalidasa's  description 
of  the  Himalayas  is  more  pleasing  and  picturesque  than  stately 
and  sublime.  The  tendency  is  more  towards  the  ornate  and  the 
refined  than  the  grotesque  and  the  robust,  more  towards  har- 
monious roundness  than  jagged  angularity,  more  towards 
achieving  perfection  of  form  than  realising  the  integrity  and 
sincerity  of  primal  sensations.  It  is,  therefore,  not  surprising 
that  there  is  no  real  lyric  on  a  large  scale  in  Sanskrit  ;  that  its 
so-called  dramas  are  mostly  dramatic  poems ;  that  its  historical 
writings  achieve  poetical  distinction  but  are  indifferent  to  mere 
fact;  that  its  prose  romances  sacrifice  the  interest  of  theme 
to  an  exaggerated  love  of  diction  ;  and  that  its  prose  in  general 
feels  the  effect  of  poetry. 

Nevertheless,  the  Sanskrit  poet  is  quite  at  home  in  the 
depiction  of  manly  and  heroic  virtues  and  the  ordinary  emotions 
of  life,  even  if  they  are  presented  in  a  refined  domesticated  form. 
However  self-satisfied  he  may  appear,  the  poet  has  an  undoubted 
grip  over  the  essential  facts  of  life  ;  and  this  is  best  seen,  not  in 
the  studied  and  elaborate  masterpieces  of  great  poets,  but  in  the 
detached  lyrical  stanzas,  in  the  terse  gnomic  verses  of  wordly 
wisdom,  in  the  simple  prose  tales  and  fables,  and,  above  all,  in 
the  ubiquitous  delineation  of  the  erotic  feeling  in  its  infinite 
variety  of  moods  and  fancies.  There  is  indeed  a  great  deal  of 
what  is  conventional,  and  even  artificial,  in  Sanskrit  love-poetry  ; 
it  speaks  of  love  not  in  its  simplicities  but  in  its  subtle  moments. 
What  is  more  important  to  note  is  that  it  consists  often  of  the 
exaltation  of  love  for  love's  sake,  the  amorous  cult,  not  usually 
of  a  particular  woman,  a  Beatrice  or  a  Laura,  but  of  woman  as 
such,  provided  she  is  young  and  beautiful.  But  in  spite  of  all 
this,  the  poets  display  a  perfect  knowledge  of  this  great  human 
emotion  in  its  richness  and  variety  and  in  its  stimulating  situa- 
tions of  joy  and  sorrow,  hope  and  fear,  triumph  and  defeat.  If 
they  speak  of  the  ideal  woman,  the  real  woman  is  always  before 


their    eyes.     The    rhetorical    commonplaces   and    psychological 
refinements  seldom  obscure  the  reality  of  the  sentiment  ;  and  the 
graceful  little  pictures  of  the  turns  and  vagaries  of  love  are  often 
remarkable  for  their  fineness   of   conception,    precision   of  touch 
and  delicacy   of   expression.     The   undoubted   power  of  pathos 
which  the  Sanskrit  poet  possesses  very  often  invests  these  erotic 
passages  with  a  deeper  and  more  poignant  note  ;  and  the   poetical 
expression  of  recollective  tenderness  in  the  presence   of   suffering, 
such  as  we  find  in  Kalidasa  and  Bhavabhuti,  is  unsurpassable  for 
its   vividness   of  imagery   and   unmistakable   tone   of  emotional 
earnestness.     But  here  again  the  general  tendency  is  to  elaborate 
pathetic  scenes   in  the  theatrical  sense,  and  to  leave  nothing  to 
the  imagination  of  the  reader.     The  theorists  are  indeed  emphatic 
that  tlie  sentiment  should    be   suggested   rather  than   expressed, 
and  never  lend  their   authority   to   the   fatal   practice  of   wordy 
exaggeration  ;   but   this    want    of   balance   is    perhaps   due   not 
entirely  to   an  ineffective   love  of  parade  and  futile  adorning  of 
trivialities,   but  also    to    an  extreme  seriousness    of    mind    and 
consequent  want  of    humour,   which  never    allow  the  poet  to 
attain    the  necessary  sense  of  proportion  and  aloofness.     There 
is   enough    of    wit    in   Sanskrit    literature,     and    it    is    often 
strikingly  effective ;  but  there   is  little  of  the  saving  grace  of 
humour   and  sense  of  the  ridiculous.     Its  attempts  at  both  comic 
and  pathetic  effects  are,  therefore,   often   unsuccessful ;   and,   as 
we  have  said,  it  very  seldom  achieves  comedy  in  its  higher  forms 
or  trngedy  in  its  deeper  sense. 

But  the  seriousness,  as  well  as  the  artificiality,  of  Sanskrit 
literature  is  very  often  relieved  by  a  wonderful  feeling  for 
natural  scenery,  which  is  both  intimate  and  real.  In  spite  of 
a  great  deal  of  magnificently  decorative  convention  in  painting, 
there  is  very  often  the  poet's  freshness  of  observation,  as  well  as 
the  direct  recreative  or  reproductive  touch.  In  the  delineation 
of  human  emotion,  aspects  of  nature  are  very  often  skilfully 
interwoven  ;  and  most  of  the  effective  similes  and  metaphors  of 
Sanskrit  love-poetry  are  drawn  from  the  surrounding  familiar 


scenes.  The  J&tu-sarfihara,  attributed  to  Kalidasa,  reviews  the  six 
Indian  seasons  in  detail,  and  explains  elegantly,  if  not  with  deep 
feeiingf  the  meaning  of  the  seasons  for  the  lover.  The  same  power 
of  utilizing  nature  as  the  background  of  human  emotion  is  seen 
in  the  Megha-diita,  where  the  grief  of  the  separated  lovers  is  set 
in  the  midst  of  splendid  natural  scenery.  The  tropical  summer 
and  the  rains  play  an  important  part  in  the  emotional  life  of 
the  people.  It  is  during  the  commencement  of  the  monsoon 
that  the  traveller  returns  home  after  long  absence,  and  the  expect- 
ant wives  look  at  the  clouds  in  eagerness,  lifting  up  the  ends  of 
their  curls  in  their  hands;  while  the  maiden,  who  in  hot  summer 
distributes  water  to  the  thirsty  traveller  at  the  wayside  resting 
places,  the  Prapa-palika  as  she  is  called,  naturally  evokes  a  large 
number  of  erotic  verses,  which  are  now  scattered  over  the  Antho- 
logies. Autumns  also  inspires  beautiful  sketches  with  its  clear 
blue  sky,  flocks  of  white  flying  geese  and  meadows  ripe  with 
corn ;  and  spring  finds  a  place  with  its  smelling  mango-blossoms, 
southern  breeze  and  swarm  of  humming  bees.  The  groves 
and  gardens  of  nature  form  the  background  not  only  to  these 
little  poems,  and  to  the  pretty  little  love-intrigues  of  the  Sanskrit 
plays,  but  also  to  the  larger  human  drama  played  in  the  hermi- 
tage of  Kanva,  to  the  passionate  madness  of  Pururavas,  to  the 
deep  pathos  of  Rama's  hopeless  grief  for  Sita  in  the  forest  of 
Dandaka,  and  to  the  fascinating  love  of  Krsna  and  Radha  on  the 
banks  of  the  Yamuna. 

It  would  appear  that  even  if  the  Kavya  literature  was 
magnificent  in  partial  accomplishment,  its  development  was 
considerably  hampered  by  the  conditions  under  which  it  grew, 
and  the  environment  in  which  it  flourished.  If  it  has  great 
merits,  its  defects  are  equally  great.  It  is  easier,  however, 
to  magnify  the  defects  and  forget  the  merits ;  and  it  is  often 
difficult  to  realise  the  entire  mentality  of  these  poets  in  order 
to  appreciate  their  efforts  in  their  proper  light.  The  marvellous 
results  attained  even  within  very  great  limitations  show  that 
was  surely  nothing  wrong  with  the  genius  of  the  poets, 


but  something  was  wrong  in  the  literary  atmosphere,  which* 
cramped  its  progress  and  prevented  the  fullest  enfranchisement 
of  the  passion  and  the  imagination.  The  absence  of  another 
literature  for  comparison — for  the  later  Prakrit  and  allied 
specimens  are  mainly  derivative — was  also  a  serious  drawback^ 
which  would  partially  explain  why  its  outlook  is  so  limited  and 
the  principles  of  poetic  art  and  practice  so  stereotyped.  India, 
through  ages,  never  stood  in  absolute  isolation,  and  it  could 
assimilate  and  transmute  what  it  received ;  but  Sanskrit 
literature  had  very  few  opportunities  of  a  real  contact  with  any 
other  great  literature.  As  in  the  drama,  so  in  the  romance 
and  other  spheres,  we  cannot  say  that  there  is  any  reliable 
ground  to  suppose  that  it  received  any  real  impetus  from  Greek 
or  other  sources;  and  it  is  a  pity  that  such  an  impetus  never 
came  to  give  it  new  impulses  and  save  it  from  stagnation. 

It  should  also  be  remembered  that  the  term  Kavya  is  not 
co-extensive  with  what  is  understood  by  the  word  poem  or 
poetry  in  modern  times.  It  is  clearly  distinguished  from  the 
'  epic/  to  which  Indian  tradition  applies  the  designation  of 
Itihasa;  but  the  nomenclature  '  court-epic  '  as  a  term  of  com- 
promise is  misleading.  The  underlying  conception,  general 
outlook,  as  well  as  the  principles  which  moulded  the  Kavya  are, 
as  we  have  seen,  somewhat  different  and  peculiar.  Generally 
speaking,  the  Kavya,  with  its  implications  and  reticences,  is 
never  simple  and  untutored  in  the  sense  in  which  these 
terms  can  be  applied  to  modern  poetry;  while  sentimental 
and  romantic  content,  accompanied  by  perfection  of  form, 
subtlety  of  expression  and  ingenious  embellishment,  is  regarded, 
more  or  less,  as  essential.  The  Sanskrit  Kavya  is  wholly 
dominated  by  a  self-conscious  idea  of  art  and  method;  it 
is  not  meant  for  undisciplined  enjoyment,  nor  for  the 
satisfaction  of  causal  interest.  The  rationale  is  furnished 
by  its  super-normal  or  super-individual  character,  recognised 
by  poetic  theory,  which  rules  out  personal  passion  and  empha- l 
sises  purely  artistic  emotion.  This  is  also  obvious  from  the 



fact  that  the  bulk  of  this  literature  is  in  the  metrical  form. 
But  both  theory  and  practice  make  the  Kavya  extensive  enough 
to  comprehend  in  its  scope  any  literary  work  of  the  imagination, 
and  refuse  to  recognise  metre  as  essential.  It,  therefore,  includes 
poetry,  drama,  prose  romance,  folk-tale,  didactic  fable,  historical 
writing  and  philosophical  verse,  religious  and  gnomic  stanza, — 
in  fact,  every  branch  of  literature  which  may  be  contained 
within  the  denomination  of  belles-lettres  in  the  widest  sense,  to 
the  exclusion  of  whatever  is  purely  technical  or  occasional.  One 
result  of  this  attitude  is  that  while  the  drama  tends  towards  the 
dramatic  poem,  the  romance,  tales  and  even  historical  or 
biographical  sketches  are  highly  coloured  by  poetical  and  stylistic 
effects.  In  construction,  vocabulary  and  ornament,  the  prose 
also  becomes  poetical.  It  is  true  that  in  refusing  to  admit  that 
the  distinction  between  prose  and  poetry  lies  in  an  external  fact, 
namely  the  metre,  there  is  a  recognition  of  the  true  character  of 
poetic  expression  ;  but  in  practice  it  considerably  hampers  the 
development  of  prose  as  prose.  It  is  seldom  recognised  that 
verse  and  prose  rhythms  have  entirely  different  values,  and  that 
the  melody  and  diction  of  the  one  are  not  always  desirable  in  the 
other.  As  the  instruments  of  the  two  harmonies  are  not  clearly 
differentiated  as  means  of  literary  expression,  simple  and 
vigorous  prose  hardly  ever  develops  in  Sanskrit ;  and  its  achieve- 
ment is  poor  in  comparison  with  that  of  poetry,  which  almost 
exclusively  predominates  and  even  approximates  prose  towards 


The  question  of  the  origin  and  individual  characteristics 
of  the  various  types  of  literary  composition  comprised  under  the 
Kavya  will  be  discussed  in  their  proper  places ;  but  since  drama, 
like  poetry,  forms  one  of  its  important  branches,  we  may  briefly 
consider  here  its  beginnings,  as  well  as  its  object,  scope  and 
method^  The  drama,  no  doubt,  as  a  subdivision  of  the  KavyaA 


partakes  of  most  of  its  general  characteristics,  but  since  its 
form  and  method  are  different,  it  is  necessary  to  consider  it 

The  first  definite,  but  scanty,  record  of  the  Sanskrit  drama 
is  found  in  the  dramatic  fragments,  discovered  in  Central  Asia 
and  belonging  to  the  early  Kusana  period,  one  of  these  fragments 
being  actually  the  work  of  Asvagbosa.  The  discovery,  of  which 
we  shall  speak  more  later,  is  highly  important  from  the  histori- 
cal point  of  view  ;  for  the  features  which  these  fragments  reveal 
undoubtedly  indicate  that  the  drama  had  already  attained 
the  literary  form  and  technique  which  persist  throughout  its 
later  course ;  and  its  fairly  developed  character  suggests  that 
it  must  have  had  a  history  behind  it.  This  history,  unfortun- 
ately, cannot  be  traced  today,  for  the  earlier  specimens  which 
might  have  enabled  us  to  do  so,  appear  to  have  perished  in 
course  of  time.  The  orthodox  account  of  the  origin  of  the 
Sanskrit  drama,  by  describing  it  as  a  gift  from  heaven  in  the 
form  of  a  developed  art  invented  by  the  divine  sage  Bharata, 
envelops  it  in  an  impenetrable  mist  of  myth ;  while  modern 
scholarship,  professing  to  find  the  earliest  manifestation  of  a 
ritual  drama  in  the  dialogue-hymns  of  the  Rgvcda  and  presuming 
a  development  of  the  dramatic  from  the  religious  after  the  manner 
of  the  Greek  drama,  shrouds  the  question  of  its  origin  in  a  still 
greater  mist  of  speculation. 

The  original  purpose 1  of  some  fifteen  hymns  of  the  Rgveda^ 
which  are  obviously  dialogues  and  are  recognised  as  such  by  the 
Indian  tradition,2  is  frankly  obscure.  Most  of  them,  like  those 
of  Pururavas  and  Urvasi"  (x.  95),  Yama  and  Yarn!  (x.  10), 
Indra,  Indrani  and  Vrsakapi  (x.  80),  Saramfi  and  the  Panis 
(x.  108),  are  not  in  any  way  connected  with  the  religious  sacrifice, 

1  For  a  summary  and  discussion  of  the  various  theories  and  for  references,  see  Keith 
in  ZDMG,  Ixiv,  1910,  p.  534  f,  in  JRAS,  1911,  p.  970  f  and  in  his   Sanskrit   Drama   (hereafter 
cited  as  SD),  p.  13  f. 

2  Both  Saunaka  and  Y&ska  ay  ply  the  term  Samvada-sukta  to  most  of  these  hymni,  but 
sometimes  the  terms  Itihasa  and  Xkhyana  are  also  employed.    Even  assuming  popular  origin 
and  dramatic  elements,  the  hymns  are  in  no  sense  ballads  or  ballad-plays. 


nor  do  they  represent  the  usual  type  of  religious  hymns  of  prayer 
and  thanksgiving ;  but  they  appear  to  possess  a  mythical  or 
legendary  content.  It  has  been  claimed  that  here  we  have  the 
first  signs  of  the  Indian  drama.  The  suggestion  is  that  these 
dialogues  call  for  miming ;  and  connected  with  the  ritual  dance, 
song  and  music,  they  represent  a  kind  of  refined  and  sacerdotal- 
ised  dramatic  spectacle,1  or  in  fact,  a  ritual  drama,  or  a  Vedic 
Mystery  Play  in  a  nutshell,2  in  which  the  priests  assuming  the 
roles  of  divine,  mythical  or  human  interlocutors  danced  and 
sang8  the  hymns  in  dialogues.  To  this  is  added  the  further 
presumption4  that  the  hymns  represent  an  old  type  of  composi- 
tion, narrative  in  character  and  Indo-European  in  antiquity,  in 
which  there  existed  originally  both  prose  and  verse ;  but  the 
verse,  representing  the  points  of  interest  or  feeling,  was  carefully 
constructed  and  preserved,  while  the  prose,  acting  merely  as  a  con- 
necting link,  was  left  to  be  improvised,  and  therefore  never  re- 
mained fixed  nor  was  handed  down.  It  is  assumed  that  the  dialogues 
in  the  Kgvedic  hymns  represent  the  verse,  the  prose  having 
disappeared  before  or  after  their  incorporation  into  the  Samhita  ; 
and  the  combination  of  prose  and  verse  in  the  Sanskrit  drama 
is  alleged  to  be  a  legacy  of  this  hypothetical  Vedic  Akhyana. 

It  must  be  admitted  at  once  that  the  dramatic  quality  of  the 
hymns  is  considerable,  and  that  the  connexion  between  the  drama 
and  the  religious  song  and  dance  in  general  has  been  made  clear 
by  modern  research.  At  first  sight,  therefore,  the  theory  appears 
plausible;  but  it  is  based  on  several  unproved  and  unnecessary 
assumptions.  It  is  not  necessary,  for  instance,  nor  is  there  any 
authority,  for  finding  a  ritual  explanation  of  these  hymns  ;  for 

1  8.  L6vi,  Tht&lre  indien,  Paris,  1890,  p.  333f. 

2  Ij.  von  Scbroeder,  Mysteriumund  Mimus  im    fgveda,  Leipzig,  1908;     A.    HilJebrandt, 
Bber  die  Anfdnge  dee  indischen  Dramast  Munich,  1914,  p.  22  f. 

3  J.  Hertel  in  W ZKM,  XVIII,  K04,  p.  59  f,  137  f ;  XXIIJ,  p.  273  f ;  XXIV,  p.    117  f. 
Hertel  maintains  that  unless  singing  is  presumed,  it  is  not  possible  for  a    single  speaker  to 
make  the  necessary   distinction  between  the  different  speakers  presupposed  in  the  dialogues  of 
the  hymns. 

<   H.  OMenberg  in  ZDMG,  XXXII,  p.  64  f ;  XXXIX,  p.  62 ;  and  also  in   Zur  Geschichte 
d.  altindischen  Prosa,  Berlin,  1917,  p.  63f. 


neither  the  Indian  tradition  nor  even  modern  scholarship  admits 
the  presumption  that  everything  contained  in  the  Rgveda  is  con- 
nected with  the  ritual.  As  a  matter  of  fact,  no  ritual  employment 
for  these  hymns  is  prescribed  in  the  Vedic  texts  and  commen- 
taries. We  have  also  no  record  of  such  happenings  as  are  com- 
placently imagined,  nor  of  any  ritual  dance  actually  practised  by 
the  Vedic  priests;  the  Rgvedic,  as  opposed  to  the  Samavedic, 
hymns  were  recited  and  not  sung;  and  later  Vedic  literature 
knows  nothing  of  a  dramatic  employment  of  these  hymns.  It  is 
true  that  some  of  the  Vedic  ritual,  especially  the  fertility  rites, 
like  the  Mahavrata,  contains  elements  that  are  dramatic,  but  the 
existence  of  a  dramatic  ritual  is  no  evidence  of  the  existence  of  a 
ritual  drama.  It  is  also  not  necessary  to  conceive  of  these 
Rgvedic  dialogue-hymns  as  having  been  in  their  origin  a  mixture 
of  poor  prose  and  rich  verse  for  the  purpose  of  explaining  the 
occurrence  of  prose  and  verse  in  the  Sanskrit  drama  from  its  very 
beginning  ;  for  the  use  of  prose  in  drama  is  natural  arid  requires 
no  explanation,  and,  considering  the  epic  tradition  and  the  general 
predominance  of  the  metrical  form  in  Sanskrit  literature,  the 
verse  is  not  unexpected.  Both  prose  and  verse  in  the  Sanskrit 
drama  are  too  intimately  related  to  have  been  separate  in  their 

The  modified  form  of  the  above  theory,1  namely,  that  the 
Vedic  ritual  drama  itself  is  borrowed  from  an  equally  hypothetical 
popular  mime  of  antiquity,  which  is  supposed  to  have  included 
dialogue  and  abusive  language,  as  well  as  song  and  dance,  is  an 
assumption  which  does  not  entirely  dismiss  the  influence  of  reli- 
gious ceremonies,  but  believes  that  the  dramatic  element  in  the 
ritual,  as  well  as  the  drama  itself,  had  a  popular  origin.  But  to 
accept  it,  in  the  absence  of  all  knowledge  about  popular  or  reli- 
gious mimetic  entertainment  in  Vedic  times,2  is  extremely 

1  Sten  Konow,  Das  ind.  Drama,  Berlin  and  Leipzig,  1920,  p.  42  f. 

3  The  analogy  of  the  Yatrii,  which  is  as  much  secular  as  bound  up  with  religion  in  iti 
origin,  is  interesting,  but  there  is  nothing  to  show  that  such  forms  of  popular  entertainment 
actually  existed  in  Vedic  times. 


difficult.  The  influence  of  the  element  of  abusive  language  and 
amusing  antics  in  the  Horse-sacrifice,  as  well  as  in  the  Maha- 
vrata,1  appears  to  have  been  much  exaggerated;  for  admittedly  it 
is  an  ingredient  of  magic  rites,  and  there  is  no  evidence  either  of 
its  popular  character  or  of  its  alleged  impetus  towards  the  growth 
of  the  religious  drama.  The  history  of  the  Vidusaka  of  the 
Sanskrit  drama,2  which  is  sometimes  cited  in  support,  is  at  most 
obscure.  He  is  an  anomalous  enough  character,  whose  name 
implies  that  he  is  given  to  abuse  and  who  is  yet  rarely  such  in  the 
actual  drama,  who  is  a  Brahmin  and  a  '  high  '  character  and  who 
yet  speaks  Prakrit  and  indulges  in  absurdities ;  but  his  derivation 
from  an  imaginary  degraded  Brahmin  of  the  hypothetical  secular 
drama,  on  the  one  hand,  is  as  unconvincing  as  his  affiliation  to  a 
ritual  drama,  on  the  other,  which  is  presumed  from  the  abusive 
dialogue  of  the  Brahmin  student  and  the  hataera  in  the  Maha- 
vrata  ceremony.  An  interesting  parallel  is  indeed  drawn  from  the 
history  of  the  Elizabethan  Pool,  who  was  originally  the  ludicrous 
Devil  of  mediaeval  Mystery  Plays  ;l{  but  an  argument  from  analogy 
is  not  a  proof  of  fact.  The  Vidusaka's  attempts  at  amusing  by 
his  cheap  witticisms  about  his  gastronomical  sensibilities  are 
inevitable  concessions  to  the  groundlings  and  do  not  require  the 
far-fetched  invocation  of  a  secular  drama  for  explanation.  The 
use  of  Prakrit  and  Prakritic  technical  terminology  in  the  Sanskrit 
drama,  again,  has  been  adduced  in  support  of  its  popular 
origin,  but  we  have  no  knowledge  of  any  primitive  Prakrit  drama 
or  of  any  early  Prakrit  drama  turned  into  Sanskrit,  and  the 
occurrence  of  Prakritic  technical  terms  maybe  reasonably  referred 
to  the  practice  of  the  actors. 

It  seems,  therefore,  that  even  if  the  elements   of  the   drama 
were  present  in  Vedic  times,  there  is  no  proof  that   the  drama, 

1  A.  Hillebrandfc,  RitualUtteratuT,  Strassburg,  1897,  p.  157. 

*  Sten  KonoWj  op.  cff.,  pp.  14-15.  See  also  J.  Huizioga,  De  Vidusaka  in  het  indisch 
tooneel,  Groningen,  1897,  p.  64  f,  and  M.  Scbuyler,  The  Origin  of  the  Vidu§aka  in  JAOS,  XX, 
1899,  p.  838  f. 

3  A.  Hillebrandt,  Die  Anf&nge,  p.  24  f . 


in  however  rudimentary  form,  was  actually  known.  The  actor 
is  not  mentioned,  nor  does  any  dramatic  terminology  occur. 
There  may  have  been  some  connexion  between  the  dramatic 
religious  ceremonies  and  the  drama  in  embryo,  but  the  theory 
which  seeks  the  origin  of  the  Sanskrit  drama  in  the  sacred  dance, 
eked  out  by  song,  gesture  and  dialogue,  on  the  analogy  of  what 
happened  in  Greece  or  elsewhere,  is  still  under  the  necessity  of 
proving  its  thesis  by  actual  evidence  ;  and  little  faith  can  be 
placed  on  arguments  from  analogy.  The  application  of  Ridge- 
way's  theory  J  of  the  origin  of  drama  in  general  in  the  animistic 
worship  of  the  dead  is  still  less  authenticated  in  the  case  of  the 
Sanskrit  drama  ;  for  the  performance  is  never  meant  here  for 
the  gratification  of  departed  spirits,  nor  are  the  characters 
regarded  as  their  representatives. 

As  a  reaction  against  the  theory  of  sacred  origin,  we  have 
the  hypothesis  of  the  purely  secular  origin  of  the  Sanskrit  drama 
in  the  Puppet-play2  and  the  Shadow-play'1;  but  here  again  the 
suggestions  do  not  bear  critical  examination,  and  the  lack  of  exact 
data  precludes  us  from  a  dogmatic  conclusion.  While  the  refer- 
ence to  the  puppet-play  in  the  Mahabhdrata  *  cannot  be  exactly 
dated,  its  supposed  antiquity  and  prevalence  in  India,  if  correct, 
do  not  necessarily  make  it  the  source  of  the  Sanskrit  drama  ;  and 
its  very  name  (from  putrika,  puttalika)  implies  that  it  is  only  a 
make-believe  or  imitation  and  presupposes  the  existence  of  the 
regular  play.  The  designations  Sutradhara  and  Sthapaka  need 
not  refer  to  any  original  manipulation  of  puppets  by  *  pulling 
strings'  or  'arranging/  but  they  clearly  refer  to  the  original 

1  Ae  set  forth  in  Dramas  and   Dramatic   Dances  of  Non-European  Races,  Cambridge, 
1938,  also  in  JRAS,  1916,  p.  821  f,  1917,  p.   143  f,  effectively  criticised  by  Keith   in    JRAS, 
1916,  p.  335  f  ,  1917,  p.  140  f . 

2  R.  Piachel  in  Die  Heimat  des  Puppenspiels,  Halle,  1900  (tra.  into  English    by  Mildred 
0.  Tawney,  London,  1902). 

3  Pischel  in  Das  aUindische  Schattenspiel   in  SBAW,  1906,  pp.   482-602,  further   ela- 
borated by  H.  Liiders  in  Die  Saubhikas  :  ein  Beitrag  zur  Geschichte  d.  indischen  Dramas    IB 
SBAW.WIQ,  p.  698  f. 

*    XII.  294.  5,  as  explained  by  Nllakantha. 


function  of  the  director  or  stage-manager  of  laying  out  and  con- 
structing the  temporary  playhouse.  With  regard  to  the  shadow- 
play,  in  which  shadow-pictures  are  produced  by  projection  from 
puppets  on  the  reverse  side  of  a  thin  white  curtain,  the  evidence 
of  its  connexion  with  the  drama  is  late  and  indefinite,1  and 
therefore  inconclusive.  Whatever  explanation  2  may  be  given  of 
the  extremely  obscure  passage  in  Patafijali's  Mahabhasya  (ad.  iii. 
1.  26)  on  the  display  of  the  Saubhikas,  there  is  hardly  any 
foundation  for  the  view8  that  the  Saubhikas  discharged  the  func- 
tion of  showing  shadow-pictures  and  explaining  them  to  the 
audience.  The  exact  meaning,  again,  of  the  term  Chaya-nataka, 
found  in  certain  plays,  is  uncertain  ;  it  is  not  admitted  as  a 
known  genre  in  Sanskrit  dramatic  theory,  and  none  of  the  so- 
called  Chaya-natakas  is  different  in  any  way  from  the  normal 
drama.  The  reference  to  the  Javanese  shadow-play  does  not 
strengthen  the  position,  for  it  is  not  yet  proved  that  the  Javanese 
type  was  borrowed  from  India  or  that  its  analogue  prevailed  in 
India  in  early  times  ;  and  its  connexion  with  the  Sanskrit  drama 
cannot  be  established  until  it  is  shown  that  the  shadow-play 
itself  sprang  up  without  a  previous  knowledge  of  the  drama. 

Apart  from  the  fact,  however,  that  the  primitive  drama  in 
general  shows  a  close  connexion  with  religion,  and  apart  also 
from  the  unconvincing  theory  of  the  ritualistic  origin  of  the 
Sanskrit  drama,  there  are  still  certain  facts  connected  with  the 
Sanskrit  drama  itself  which  indicate  that,  if  it  was  in  its  origin 
not  exactly  of  the  nature  of  a  religious  drama,  it  must  have  been 
considerably  influenced  in  its  growth  by  religion  or  religious 
cults.  In  the  absence  of  sufficient  material,  the  question  does 

1  On  the  whole  question  and  for  references,  eee  Keith  in  SDt  pp,  58-57  and  8.  K.  De 
in  IHQ,  VII,  1931,  p.  542  f . 

*  Various  explanations  have  been  suggested  by  Kayyata  in  his  commentary ;  by  A. 
W*ber  in  Ind.  Studien,  XIII,  p.  488  f. ;  by  Le>i,  op.  tit.,  p.  315  ;  by  Ltiders  in  the  work  cited 
above;  by  Winternitz  in  ZDMG.t  LXXIV,  1920,  p.  118  ff. ;  by  Hillebrandt  in  ZDMG, 
LXXII,  1918,  p.  227  f. ;  by  Keith  in  BSOS,  I,  pt.  4,  p.  27  f.f  and  by  K.  G.  Sabrahmanya 
in  JRAS,  1925,  p.  502. 

1  Ltiders,  op.  cit.  supported  by  Winternitz,  but  effectively  criticised  by  Hilltbrandt 
and  Keith. 


not  admit  of  clear  demonstration,  but  it  can  be  generally  accepted 
from  some  undoubted  indications.  One  of  the  early  descriptions 
of  scenic  representation  that  we  have  is  that  given  by  Patanjali, 
mentioned  above ;  it  is  interesting  that  the  entertainment 
is  associated  with  the  Visnu-Krsna  legend  of  the  slaying  of 
Kamsa  and  the  binding  of  Bali.  It  may  not  have  been  drama 
proper,  but  it  was  not  a  mere  shadow-play  nor  recitation  of  the 
type  made  by  the  Granthikas  ;  it  may  have  been  some  kind  of 
pantomimic,  or  even  dramatic,  performance  distinctly  carried  out 
by  action.  It  should  be  noted  in  this  connexion  that,  on  the 
analogy  of  the  theory  of  the  origin  of  the  Greek  drama  from 
a  mimic  conflict  of  summer  and  winter,  Keith  sees  1  in  the  legend 
of  the  slaying  of  Kainsa  a  refined  version  of  an  older  vegetation 
ritual  in  which  there  was  a  demolition  of  the  outworn  spirit  of 
vegetation,  and  evolves  an  elaborate  theory  of  the  origin  of  Indian 
tragedy  from  this  idea  of  a  contest.  But  the  tendency  to  read 
nature-myth  or  nature- worship  into  every  bit  of  legend,  history 
or  folklore,  which  was  at  one  time  much  in  vogue,  is  no  longer 
convincing  ;  and  in  the  present  case  it  is  gratuitous,  and  even 
misleading,  to  invoke  Greek  parallels  to  explain  things  Indian. 
It  is  sufficient  to  recognise  that  here  we  have  an  early  indi- 
cation of  the  close  connexion  of  some  dramatic  spectacle  with 
the  Visnu-Krsna  legend,  the  fascination  of  which  persists 
throughout  the  history  of  Sanskrit  literature.  Again,  it  may 
be  debatable  whether  SaurasenI  as  the  normal  prose  Prakrit  of 
the  Sanskrit  drama  came  from  the  Krsna  cult,  which  is  supposed 
to  have  its  ancient  home  in  Surasena  or  Mathura  ;  but  there 
can  be  no  doubt  that  in  the  fully  developed  Sanskrit  drama  the 
Krsna  cult 2  came  to  play  an  important  part.  The  Holi-festival 
of  the  Krsna  cult,  which  is  essentially  a  spring  festival,  is 
sometimes  equated  with  the  curious  ceremony  of  the  decoration 
and  worship  of  Indra's  flagstaff  (Jarjara-  or  Indradhvaja-puja) 

1  In  ZDMG,  LXIV,  1910,  p.  534  f. ;  in  JRAS,  1911,  p.  079,  1912,  p.  411;   in  SD,  p.  87  f. 

2  On  the  Kfspa  cult,  see  Winternitz  in  ZDMG,  LXXIV,  1920,  p.  118  f. 

7— 1343B 


prescribed  by  Bharata  as  one  of  the  preliminaries  (Purva-ranga) 
of  enacting  a  play,  on  the  supposition  that  it  is  analogical  to 
the  Maypole  ceremony  of  England  and  the  pagan  phallic  rites  of 
Eome.  The  connexion  suggested  is  as  hypothetical  as  Bharata's 
legendary  explanation  that  with  the  flagstaff  Tndra  drove  away 
the  Asuras,  who  wanted  to  disturb  the  enacting  of  a  play  by  the 
gods,  is  fanciful  ;  but  it  has  been  made  the  somewhat  slender 
foundation  of  a  theory  1  that  the  Indian  drama  originated 
from  a  banner  festival  (Dhvaja-maha)  in  honour  of  Indra.  The 
existence  of  the  Nandl  and  other  religious  preliminaries  of  the 
Sanskrit  drama  is  quite  sufficient  to  show  that  the  ceremony  of 
Jarjara-puja,  whatever  be  its  origin,  is  only  a  form  of  the 
customary  propitiation  of  the  gods,  and  may  have  nothing  to 
do  with  the  origin  of  the  drama  itself.  It  is,  however, 
important  to  note  that  religious  service  forms  a  part  of  the 
ceremonies  preceding  a  play ;  and  it  thus  strengthens  the 
connexion  of  the  drama  with  religion.  Like  Indra  and 
Krsna,  Siva  2  is  also  associated  with  the  drama,  for  Bharata 
ascribes  to  him  and  his  spouse  the  invention  of  the  Tandava 
and  the  Lasya,  the  violent  and  the  tender  dance,  respectively  ; 
and  the  legend  of  Kama  has  no  less  an  importance  than  that  of 
Krsna  in  supplying  the  theme  of  the  Sanskrit  drama. 

All  this,  as  well  as  the  attitude  of  the  Buddhist  and  Jaina 
texts  towards  the  drama,8  would  suggest  that,  even  if  the 
theory  of  its  religious  origin  fails,  the  Sanskrit  drama  probably 
received  a  great  impetus  from  religion  in  its  growth.  In  the 
absence  of  decisive  evidence,  it  is  better  to  admit  our  inability 
to  explain  the  nature  and  extent  of  the  impetus  from  this  and 
other  sources,  than  indulge  in  conjectures  which  are  of  facts, 
fancies  and  theories  all  compact.  It  seems  probable,  however, 
that  the  literary  antecedents  of  the  drama,  as  of  poetry,  are  to 
be  sought  mainly  in  the  great  Epics  of  India.  The  references  to 

1  Haraprasad  Sastri  in  JPASB,  V,  1909,  p.  351  f. 

2  Bloch  in   ZDMG,  LXII,  1908,  p.  655. 

3  Keith,  SD.  pp.  43-44. 


the  actor  and  dramatic  performance  in  the  composite  and 
undatable  texts  of  the  Epics  and  the  Hari-vamsa  need  not  be  of 
conclusive  value,  nor  should  stress  be  laid  on  the  attempted 
derivation  of  the  word  Kusllava,1  denoting  an  actor,  from  Kusa 
and  Lava  of  the  Ramayana  ;  but  it  seems  most  probable  that 
the  early  popularity  of  epic  recitation,  in  which  the  reciter 
accompanied  it  with  gestures  and  songs,  can  be  connected  with 
the  dramatisation  of  epic  stories.  How  the  drama  began  we 
do  not  know,  nor  do  we  know  exactly  when  it  began;  but  the 
natural  tendency  to  dramatisation,  by  means  of  action,  of  a 
vivid  narrative  (such,  for  instance,  as  is  suggested  by  the 
Mahabhasya  passage)  may  have  been  stimulated  to  a  great  degree 
by  the  dramatic  recitation  of  epic  tales.  No  doubt,  the  develop- 
ed drama  is  not  a  mere  dramatisation  of  epic  material,  and  it 
is  also  not  clear  how  the  idea  of  dramatic  conflict  and  analysis 
of  action  in  relation  to  character  were  evolved;  but  the  Sanskrit 
drama  certainly  inherits  from  the  Epics,  in  which  its  interest 
is  never  lost  throughout  its  history,  its  characteristic  love  of 
description,  which  it  shares  with  Sanskrit  poetry ;  and  both 
drama  and  poetry  draw  richly  also  upon  the  narrative  and 
didactic  content  of  the  Epics.  The  close  approximation  also  of 
drama  to  poetry  made  by  Sanskrit  theory  perhaps  points  to  the 
strikingly  parallel,  but  inherently  diverse,  development  from  a 
common  epic  source  ;  and  it  is  not  surprising  that  early  poets 
like  Asvaghosa  and  Kalidasa  were  also  dramatists.  The  other 

1  L6vi,  op.  cit.,  p.  312;  Sben  Konow,  op.  «f.,  p.  9.  It  is  uob  clear  if  the  term  is 
really  a  compound  of  irregular  formation;  and  the  etymology  /wHZ/a, '  of  bad  morals',  is 
clever  in  view  of  the  proverbial  morals  of  the  actor,  but  farfetched.  The  word  Bharata,  also 
denoting  the  actor,  is  of  course  derived  from  the  mythical  Bharata  of  the  Natya-sastra,  and 
has  nothing  to  do  with  Bharata,  still  less  with  Bhat  i  which  is  clearly  from  Bha$ta.  The 
nauie  Ndja,  which  is  apparently  a  Prakritisation  of  the  earlier  rooc  nrt  '  to  dance  '  (contra 
D.  K.  Minkad,  Types  of  Sanskrit  Drama,  Karachi,  1920,  p.  6  f)  probibly  indicates  that  he 
was  originally,  and  perhaps  mainly,  a  dancer,  who  acquired  the  mimetic  art.  The  distinction 
between  Nrtta  f Dancing),  Nrty a  (Dancing  with  gestures  and  feeliugs)  and  Natya  (Drama 
with  histrionics),  made  by  the  Datancpaka  (1.7-9)  and  other  works,  is  certainly  late,  but 
it  is  not  uuhistorical ;  for  it  explains  the  evolution  of  the  Itupaka  and  Uparupaka 


literary  tendency  of  the  drama,  namely,  its  lyric  inspiration  and 
metrical  variety  of  sentimental  verses,  however,  may  have  been 
supplied  by  the  works  of  early  lyrists,  some  of  whose  fragments 
are  preserved  by  Patanjali.  The  extant  dramatic  literature,  like 
the  poetic,  does  not  give  an  adequate  idea  of  its  probable 
antiquity1;  but  that  the  dramatic  art  probably  developed  some- 
what earlier  even  than  the  poetic  can  be  legitimately  inferred 
from  the  admission  of  the  rhetoricians  that  they  borrow  the 
theory  of  sentiment  from  dramaturgy  and  apply  it  to  poetics,  as 
well  as  from  the  presumably  earlier  existence  of  the  Natya-£astra 
of  Bharata  than  that  of  any  known  works  on  poetics, 

The  extreme  paucity  of  our  knowledge  regarding  the  impetus 
which  created  the  drama  has  led  to  the  much  discussed  sugges- 
tion2 that  some  influence,  if  not  the  en-tire  impetus,  might  have 
come  from  the  Greek  drama.  Historical  researches  have  now 
established  the  presence  of  Greek  principalities  in  India  ;  and  it 
is  no  longer  possible  to  deny  that  the  Sanskrit  drama  must  have 
greatly  developed  during  the  period  when  the  Greek  influence  was 
present  in  India.  As  we  know  nothing  about  the  causes  of  this 
development,  and  as  objections  regarding  chronology  and  contact 

1  Panini's  reference  to  Nata-sutras  composed  by  Silalin  and  Kr Sasva  (IV.  3. 11.0-111)  has 
been  dismissed  as  doubtful,    for  there  is  no  means  of  determining  the  meaning  of  the   word 
Nata  (see  above),  which  may   refer  to  a  mere  dancer  or  mimer.    But   the  drama,  as  well  as 
the  dramatic  performance,  is  known  to  Buddhist  literature,  not   only  clearly   to  works  of 
uncertain  date  like  the  Avadana-Sataka  (II.  21  >,  the  Divyavaddna   (pp.    357,   360-61j    and   the 
Lalita-vistara  (XII,  p.  178),  but  also  probably  to  the  Buddhist  Suttas,  which  forbid  the  monks 
watching  popular  shows.    The  exact  nature  of  these  shows  13  not  clear,  but  there   is  no  reason 
to  presume  that  they    were  not     dramatic  entertainments.    See   Winternitz    in    WZKM, 
XXVII,  1913,  p.  39f ;  L6vi,  op.  cit ,  p.  819  f.— The  mention  of  the  word  Na$a  or  Nataka  in  the 
undatable  and  uncertain  texts  of  the   Epics    (including  the  Hari-vamta)   is   of  little    value 
for  chronological  purposes. 

2  A.  Weber  in  Ind.  Studien,  II,  p.  148  and  Die  Griechen  in  Indien  in  SBAWt  1890,  p.  920; 
repudiated  by  Pischel  in  Die  Rezension  der  tfakuntala,  Breslau,  1875,  p.  19   and    in     SB  A  W , 
19C6,  p.  602;  but  elaborately  supported,  in  a  modified  form,  by  Windisch    in    Der    griechische 
Einfluss  im  indtschen  Drama  (in  Verhl.  d.  7.  Intern.  Orient.  Congress]  Berlin,  1882,  pp.  3  f. 
See  Sten  Konow,op.  ct't.,  pp.  4042  and  Keith,  SDt  pp.  57-(38,  for  a  discussion  of  the  theory  and 
further  references.    W.    W.  Tarn   reviews  the  whole  question  in  his  Greeks  in  BacLria  and 
Indtc,  Cambridge,  1938,  but  he  is  extremely  cautious  on   the  subject  of  Greek  influence  on  the 

Sinikrit    drama;  see  Keith's  criticism  in   D.  R.  Bhandarkar  Volume,  Calcutta,  1940,  p.  224  f. 


are  not  valid,  there  is  nothing  a  priori  impossible  in  the  presump- 
tion of  the  influence  of  the  Greek  drama  on  the  Indian.  The 
difficulty  of  Indian  exclusiveness  and  conservatism  is  neutralised 
by  instances  of  the  extraordinary  genius  of  India  in  assimilating 
what  it  receives  from  foreign  sources  in  other  spheres  of  art  and 
science,  notwithstanding  the  barrier  of  language,  custom  and 

But  there  are  difficulties  in  adducing  positive  proof  in  support 
of  the  presumption.  The  evidence  regarding  actual  performance 
of  Greek  plays  in  the  courts  of  Greek  princes  in  India  is  extremely 
scanty; 1  but  more  important  is  the  fact  that  there  are  no  decisive 
points  of  contact,  but  only  casual  coincidences,2  between  the 
Sanskrit  drama  and  the  New  Attic  Comedy,  which  is  regarded  as 
the  source  of  the  influence.  No  reliance  can  be  placed  on  the  use 
of  the  device  of  token  of  recognition3  common  to  the  two  dramas. 
Although  the  forms  in  which  it  has  come  down  to  us  do  not 
antedate  the  period  of  supposed  Greek  influence,  the  Indian  lite- 
rature of  tales  reveals  a  considerable  use  of  this  motif ;  and  there 
are  also  epic  instances4  which  seem  to  preclude  the  possibility  of 
its  being  borrowed  from  the  Greek  drama.  It  is  a  motif  common 
enough  in  the  folk-tale  in  general,  and  inevitable  in  primitive 
society  as  a  means  of  identification  ;  and  its  employment  in  the 
Sanskrit  drama  can  be  reasonably  explained  as  having  been  of 
independent  origin.  No  satisfactory  inference,  again,  can  be 

1  L6vi,  op.  eft.,  p.  GO,  but   contra  Keith,   SD,p.  59. 

2  Such  as  division  into  acts,  number  of  acts,  departure  of  all  actors  from    the  stage   at  the 
end  of  the  acts,  the  scenic  convention  of  asides,  the  announcing1  of  the  entry  and  identity  of  a 
new  character  by  a  remark  from  a  character  already  on  the  stage,  etc.     The    Indian    Prologue 
is  entirely  different  from  the  Classical,  being  a  part  of  the  preliminaries  and  having  a  definite 
character    and  ob.'ecfc. — Max  Lindenau's   exposition   IBeitrdge    zur    altindischen  Rasalehre, 
Leipzig  1913,  p.  v)  of  the  relation  between   Bharafca's    Natya-sdstra  and  Aristotle's  Poetik  is 
interesting,  but  proves  nothing. 

3  E.g.,  the  ring  in      MdlaviLdgnimitra   and    Sakuntalat  stone   of    union    and    arrow    (of 
Ayus)  in  Vikramorvatiya,  necklace  iu  Ratnavali,  the  jewel   falling  from  the  sky  in  Nagdnanda, 
the  garland  in  MdJatl-mddhava  and  Kunda-mdld,  the  Jrmbhaka  weapons  in   Uttara-taritat  the 
clay  cart  in    Mrcchakatika,  the  seal  in  Mudrd-rd!f§asa,  etc. 

4  Keith,    SD,  p,  63. 


drawn  from  the  resemblance  of  certain  characters,  especially  the 
Vita,  the  Vidusaka,  and  the  Sakara.  The  parasite  occurs  in  the 
Greek  and  Roman  comedy,  but  he  lacks  the  refinement  and 
culture  of  the  Indian  Vita;  the  origin  of  the  Vidusaka, 
as  we  have  seen,  is  highly  debatable,  but  his  Brahmin 
caste  and  high  social  position  distinguish  him  from  the 
vulgar  slave  (servus  currens)  of  the  classical  comedy ;  and  we  know 
from  Pataiijali  that  the  Sakara  was  originally  a  person  of  Saka 
descent  and  was  apparently  introduced  into  the  Sanskrit  drama 
as  a  boastful,  ignorant  and  ridiculous  villain  at  a  time  when  the 
marital  alliance  of  Indian  kings  with  Saka  princesses  had  fallen 
into  disfavour.1  These  characters  are  not  rare  in  any  society, 
and  can  be  easily  explained  as  having  been  conceived  from  actual 
life  in  India.  The  argument,  again,  from  the  Yavanika 2  or 
curtain,  which  covered  the  entrance  from  the  retiring  room 
(Nepathya)  or  stood  at  the  back  of  the  stage  between  the  Ranga- 
pltha  and  the  Eangaslrsa,  and  which  is  alleged  to  have  received 
its  name  from  its  derivation  from  the  lonians(Yavanas)  or  Greeks, 
is  now  admitted  to  be  of  little  value,  for  the  simple  reason  that 
the  Greek  theatre,  so  far  as  we  know,  had  no  use  for  the  curtain. 
The  theory  is  modified  with  the  suggestion  that  the  Indian  curtain 

1  He  is  represented  as  the  brother  of  the  king's   concubine;    cf.  Sdlutya-darpana,  III,   44. 
Cf   E.  J.  lUpson's  article  on  the  Drama  (Indian)  in  ERE,  Vol.  IV,  p.  885. 

2  Windhch,  op  cit.,  p.  24  f.     The   etymology  given  by  Indian  lexicographers    fiom  javat 
1  speed  f  (in  the  Prakrit  Javanika  form  of  the  word),  or  the  deiivation   from   the    root    yu  '  to 
cover,*  is  ingenious,  but  not  convincing.     There  i 3  nothing  to    confirm    the  opinion    that   the 
form  Jainanika  is  a  scribal  mistake  rB6thlingk  and  Roth)  or  merely  secondary    (Sten  Konow), 
for  it  is  recognised  in  the  Indian  lexicons  and  occurs  in  some  MSS.  of  plays.    If  this  was    the 
original  form,  then  it  would  signify  a  curtain  only  (from  the  root  yamt  *  to  restrain,  cover '),  or 
double  curtain  covering  the  two  entrances  from  the  Nepathya  (from  yama,  '  twin  ') ;   but  there 
is  no  authority  for  holding  that  the  curtain  was  parted  in  the  middle.    See  IHQ,  VII,  p.  480  f. 
The  word  YavanikS,  is  apparently  known  to  Bharata,  as  it  occurs   at  5.  11-12  in  the  description 
of  the  elements  of  the  Purvarafiga.    Abhinavagnpta  explains  that  its    position   was    between 
the  Kungas'Irsa  and  Rangapltha  (ed.  QOS,  p.  212).     The  other  names  are  Pati,    Pratis'iift    and 
Tiraskaranl.    There  was  apparently  no  drop  curtain  on  the  Indian  stage.— -The  construction  of 
the  Indian  theatre,  as  described  by  Bharata,  has  little  resemblance  to  that  of  the  Greek ;  and 
Th.  Blocb's  discovery  of  the   remains  of  a   Greek   theatre  in  the   Sitavenga   Cave   (ZDMG, 
LVITI,  p.  456  f )  is  of  doubtful  value  as  a  decisive  piece  of  evidence. 


is  so  called  because  the  material  of  the  cloth  was  derived  from 
the  Greek  merchants  ;  but  even  this  does  not  carry  us  very  far  to 
prove  Greek  influence  on  the  Indian  stage  arrangement. 

It  will  be  seen  that  even   if   certain   striking  parallels   and 
coincidences  are  urged  and  admitted  between  the  Greek    and   the 
Sanskrit   drama,    the   search   for    positive    signs    of    influence 
produces  only   a   negative   result.     There    are   so    many  funda- 
mental differences   that    borrowing  or   influence   is   out  of   the 
question,  and  the   affinities   should   be  regarded  as  independent 
developments.     The  Sanskrit  drama  is  essentially  of  the  romantic 
rather     than     of     the     classical    type,    and   affords     points  of 
resemblance  to  the  Elizabethan,  rather  than  to  the  Greek,  drama. 
The  unities  of  time  and  place   are    entirely   disregarded   between 
the  acts  as  well  as   within  the   act.     Even   twelve  years  elapse 
between   one   act   and   another,    and    the   time-limit  of  an  act  1 
often  exceeds  twenty-four  hours ;    while   the   scene  easily   shifts 
from  earth   to    heaven.     Eomantic   and    fabulous   elements   are 
freely  introduced  ;  tragi-comedy  or  melodrama  is  not  infrequent; 
verse   is   regularly  mixed  with  prose  ;  puns  and  verbal  cleverness 
are  often  favoured.     There  is  no  chorus,  but  there  is  a    metrical 
benediction   and   a   prologue    which  are,  however,  integral  parts 
of  the  play  and  set  the  plot  in    motion.     While    the   parallel  of 
the  Vidusaka  is  found  in  the  Elizabethan  Fool,  certain  dramatic 
devices,  such  as  the  introduction  of  a  play    within   a   play  2   and 
the  use  of   a   token   of   recognition,  are  common.     There  is  no 
limit  in  the  Sanskrit  drama  to  the  number  of  characters,    who 
may   be   either   divine,    semi-divine   or   human.     The  plot  may 
be  taken  from  legend  or  from  history,  but  it  may  also   be   drawn 
from  contemporary   life   and   manners.     With   very  rare  excep- 
tions, the  main  interest  almost  invariably  centres  in  a   love-story, 
love   being,   at   least   in  practice,  the  only  passion  which  forms 

1  On  time'analysis  of  Sanskrit  plays  (Kalidasa  and  Hsrsa),  £ee  Jackson  in  JAOS, 
XX,  1899,  pp.  841-59;  XXI,  1900,  pp.  SB- 108. 

3  As  in  Priyadartika,  Uttara-rama-carita  and  Bala-ramayana  See  Juck son's  appendix 
to  the  ed.  of  the  fiist  play,  pp.  ev-cxi. 


the  dominant  theme  of  this  romantic  drama.  Special  structures 
of  a  square,  rectangular  or  triangular  shape  for  the  presentation 
of  plays  are  described  in  the  Ndtya-sastra,1  but  they  have  little 
resemblance  to  the  Greek  or  modern  theatre  and  must  have 
been  evolved  independently.  Very  often  plays  appear  to  have 
been  enacted  in  the  music  hall  of  the  royal  palace,  and  there 
were  probably  no  special  contrivances,  nor  elaborate  stage-proper- 
ties, nor  even  scenery  in  the  ordinary  sense  of  the  word.  The 
lack  of  these  theatrical  makeshifts  was  supplied  by  the  lively 
imagination  of  the  audience,  which  was  aided  by  a  profusion 
of  verses  describing  the  imaginary  surroundings,  by  mimetic 
action  and  by  an  elaborate  system  of  gestures  possessing  a  con- 
ventional significance. 

Besides  these  more  or  less  formal  requirements,  there  are 
some  important  features  which  fundamentally  distinguish  the 
Sanskrit  drama  from  all  other  dramas,  including  the  Greek. 
The  aim  of  the  Sanskrit  dramatists,  who  were  mostly  idealists 
in  outlook  and  indifferent  to  mere  fact  or  incident,  is  not  to 
mirror  life  by  a  direct  portrayal  of  action  or  character,  but 
(as  in  poetry)  to  evoke  a  particular  sentiment  (Rasa)  in  the 
mind  of  the  audience,  be  it  amatory,  heroic  or  quietistic.  As 
this  is  regarded,  both  in  theory  and  practice,  to  be  the  sole 
object  as  much  of  the  dramatic  art  as  of  the  poetic,  everything 
else  is  subordinated  to  this  end.  Although  the  drama  is  des- 
cribed in  theory  as  an  imitation  or  representation  of  situations 
(Avasthanukrti),  the  plot,  as  well  as  characterisation,  is  a 
secondary  element  ;  its  complications  are  to  be  avoided  so  that 
it  may  not  divert  the  mind  from  the  appreciation  of  the  senti- 
ment to  other  interests.  A  well  known  theme,  towards  which 
the  reader's  mind  would  of  itself  be  inclined,  is  normally 
preferred ;  the  poet's  skill  is  concerned  entirely  with  the  develop- 
ing of  its  emotional  possibilities.  The  criticism,  therefore,  that 
the  Sanskrit  dramatist  shows  little  fertility  in  the  invention  of 

1     On  the  theatre  see  D.  R.  Maukad  in  1HQ,  VIII,  1932,  pp.  480-99. 


plots    may   be   just,  but  it  fails  to  take  into  account  this  peculiar 
object  of  the  Sanskrit  drama. 

Thus,  the  Sanskrit  drama  came  to  possess  an  atmosphere 
of  sentiment  and  poetry,  which  was  conducive  to  idealistic 
creation  at  the  expense  of  action  and  characterisation,  but 
which  in  the  lesser  dramatists  overshadowed  all  that  was  drama- 
tic in  it.  The  analogy  is  to  be  found  in  Indian  painting 
and  sculpture,  which  avoid  the  crude  realism  of  bones  and 
muscles  and  concentrate  exclusively  on  spiritual  expression,  but 
which  often  degenerate  into  formless  fantastic  creation.  This, 
of  course,  does  not  mean  that  reality  is  entirely  banished  ;  but 
the  sentimental  and  poetic  envelopment  certainly  retards  the 
growth  of  the  purely  dramatic  elements.  It  is  for  this  reason 
that  sentimental  verses,  couched  in  a  great  variety  of  lyrical 
measures  and  often  strangely  undramatic,  preponderate  and  form 
the  more  essential  part  of  the  drama,  the  prose  acting  mainly 
as  a  connecting  link,  as  a  mode  of  communicating  facts,  or  as 
a  means  of  carrying  forward  the  story.  The  dialogue  is^  there- 
fore, more  or  less  neglected  in  favour  of  the  lyrical  stanza, 
to-  which  its  very  flatness  affords  an  effective  contrast.  It  also 
follows  from  this  sentimental  and  romantic  bias  that  typical 
characters  are  generally  preferred  to  individual  figures.  This 
leads  to  the  creation  of  conventional  characters,  like  the  king, 
queen,  minister,  lover  and  jester,  who  become  in  course  of  time 
crystallised  into  permanent  types  ;  but  this  does  not  mean  that 
the  ideal  heroic,  or  the  very  real  popular,  characters  are  all 
represented  as  devoid  of  common  humanity.  Carudatta,  for 
instance,  is  not  a  mere  marvel  of  eminent  virtues,  but  a  perfect 
man  of  the  world,  whose  great  qualities  are  softened  by  an 
equally  great  touch  of  humanity  ;  nor  is  Dusyanta  a  merely 
typical  king-lover  prescribed  by  convention ;  while  the  Sakara 
or  the  Vita  in  Sudraka's  play  are  finely  characterised.  These 
and  others  are  taken  from  nature's  never-ending  variety  of 
everlasting  types,  but  they  are  no  less  living  individuals.  At 
the  same  time,  it  cannot  be  denied  there  is  a  tendency  to  large 



generalisation  and  a  reluctance  to  deviate  from  the  type.  It 
means  an  indifference  to  individuality,  and  consequently  to  the 
realities  of  characterisation,  plot  and  action,  as  well  as  a  corres- 
ponding inclination  towards  the  purely  ideal  and  emotional 
aspects  of  theme.  For  this  reason  also,  the  Sanskrit  drama, 
as  a  rule,  makes  the  fullest  use  of  the  accessories  of  the  lyric, 
dance,  music,  song  and  mimetic  art. 

As  there  is,  therefore,  a  fundamental  difference  in  the 
respective  conception  of  the  drama,  most  of  the  Sanskrit  plays, 
judged  by  modern  standards,  would  not  at  all  be  regarded  as 
dramas  in  the  strict  sense  but  rather  as  dramatic  poems.  In 
some  authors  the  sense  of  the  dramatic  becomes  hopelessly  lost 
in  their  ever  increasing  striving  after  the  sentimental  and  the 
poetic,  and  they  often  make  the  mistake  of  choosing  lyric  or  epic 
subjects  which  were  scarcely  capable  of  dramatic  treitment.  As, 
on  the  one' hand,  the  drama  suffers  from  its  close  dependence  on 
the  epic,  so  on  the  other,  it  concentrates  itself  rather 
disproportionately  on  the  production  of  the  polished 
lyrical  and  descriptive  stanzas.  The  absence  of  scenic  aids,  no 
doubt,  makes  the  stanzas  necessary  for  vividly  suggesting  the 
scene  or  the  situation  to  the  imagination  of  the  audience  and 
evoking  the  proper  sentiment,  but  the  method  progressively 
increases  the  lyric  and  emotional  tendencies  of  the  drama,  and 
elegance  and  refinement  are  as  much  encouraged  in  the  drama  as 
in  poetry.  It  is  not  surprising,  therefore,  that  a  modern  critic 
should  accept  only  Mudra-raksasa,  in  the  whole  range  of  Sanskrit 
dramatic  literature,  as  a  drama  proper.  This  is  indeed  an 
extreme  attitude;  for  the  authors  of  the  Abhijnana-fakuntala  or 
of  the  Mrcchakatika  knew  very  well  that  they  were 
composing  dramas  and  not  merely  a  set  of  elegant  poetical 
passages  ;  but  this  view  brings  out  very  clearly  the  characteristic 
aims  and  limitations  of  the  Sanskrit  drama.  There  is,  however, 
one  advantage  which  is  not  often  seen  in  the  modern  practical 
productions  of  the  stage-craft.  The  breath  of  poetry  and 
romance  vivifies  the  Sanskrit  drama ;  it  is  seldom  of  a  prosaic 


cast ;  it  does  not  represent  human  beings  insipidly  under  ordinary 
and  commonplace  circumstances ;  it  has  often  the  higher  and 
more  poetic  naturalness,  which  is  no  less  attractive  in  revealing 
the  beauty,  as  well  as  the  depth,  of  human  character ;  and  even 
uhen  its  dramatic  qualities  are  poor  it  appeals  by  the  richness  of 
its  poetry. 

As  the  achievement  of  concord  is  a  necessary   corollary  to  the 
ideal  character  of  the  drama,  nothing  is  allowed  to  be  represented 
on  the  stage  which  might    offend    the    sensibility  of  the  audience 
and    obstruct    the    suggestion    of    the     desired     sentiment    by 
inauspicious,  frivolous  or  undesirable  details.     This  rule  regarding 
the  observance  of  stage-decencies    includes,    among  other  things, 
the  prohibition  that  death  should    not  be   exhibited  on  the  stage. 
This  restriction,  as  well  as  the  serene  and  complacent   attitude  of 
the  Indian  mind  towards  life,   makes  it  difficult  for  the  drama,  as 
for  poetry,  to  depict  tragedy  in  its  deeper  sense.     Pathetic  episodes, 
dangers  and  difficulties    may    contribute   to  the  unfolding  of  the 
plot  with  a  view  to  the  evoking  of  the  underlying   sentiment,   but 
the  final  result  should  not    be  discord.     The   poetic  justice  of  the 
European  drama   is  unknown    in  the   Sanskrit.     The  dramatist, 
like  the  poet,  shows  no  sense  of    uneasiness,  strife  or  discontent 
in  the  structure  of  life,  nor   in   its    complexity  or    difficulty,  and 
takes  without  question  the    rational    order  of    the    world.     This 
attitude   also   accepts,     without     incredulity  or   discomfort,    the 
intervention  of  forces  beyond    control  or  calculation  in  the  affairs 
of  men.     Apart    from    the    general    idea   of   a  brooding    fate  or 
destiny,  it  thinks  nothing  of  a  curse  or  a  divine  act  as  an  artificial 
device  for  controlling  the   action   of  a  play  or   bringing   about  a 
solution  of  its    complication.     It   refuses    to  rob  the  world  or  the 
human  life  of  its  mysteries,  and  freely  introduces  the   marvellous 
and  the  supernatural,  without,    however,    entirely    destroying  the 
motives  of  human   action   or   its    responsibility.     The  dramatic 
conflict,  under  these  conditions,    hardly   receives  a  full  or  logical 
scope ;  and  however  much  obstacles  may  hinder  the  course  of  love 
or  life,  the  hero  and    the    heroine    must   be  rewarded  in  the  long 


run,  and  all  is  predestined  to  end  well  by  the  achievement  of 
perfect  happiness  and  union.  There  are  indeed  exceptions  to  the 
general  rule,  for  the  Uru-bhanga1  has  a  tragic  ending  ;  while  the 
death  of  Dagaratha  occurs  on  the  stage  in  the  Pratima,  like  that 
of  Kamsa  in  the  Bala-carita.  There  are  also  instances  where  the 
rule  is  obeyed  in  the  letter  but  not  in  spirit;  lor  Vasantasena's 
apparent  murder  in  the  Mrcchakatika  occurs  on  the  stage,  and 
the  dead  person  is  restored  to  life  on  the  stage  in  the  Nagananda. 
Nevertheless,  the  injunction  makes  Kaiidasa  and  Bhavabhuti 
alter  the  tragic  ending  of  the  Urvasi  legend  and  the  Rdmayana 
story  respectively  into  one  of  happy  union,  while  the  sublimity 
of  the  self-sacrifice  of  Jimutavahana,  which  suggests  real 
tragedy,  ends  in  a  somewhat  lame  denouement  of  divine  interven- 
tion and  complete  and  immediate  reward  of  virtue  at  the  end. 
In  the  Western  drama,  death  overshadows  everything  and  forms 
the  chief  source  of  poignant  tragedy  by  its  uncertainty  and 
hopelessness ;  the  Indian  dramatist,  no  Jess  pessimistic  in  his 
belief  in  the  in  exorable  law  of  Karman,  does  not  deny  death, 
but,  finding  in  it  a  condition  of  renewal,  can  hardly  regard  it  in 
the  same  tragic  light. 

It  is,  however,  not  correct  to  say  that  the  Sanskrit  drama 
entirely  excludes  tragedy.  What  it  really  does  is  that  it  excludes 
the  direct  representing  of  death  as  an  incident,  and  insists  on  a 
happy  ending.  It  recognises  some  form  of  tragedy  in  its  pathetic 
sentiment  and  in  the  portrayal  of  separation  in  love ;  and  tragic 
interest  strongly  dominates  some  of  the  great  plays.  In  the 
Mrcchakatiha  and  the  Abhijnana-sakuntala,  for  instance,  the 
tragedy  does  not  indeed  occur  at  the  end,  but  it  occurs  in 
the  middle ;  and  in  the  Uttara-rama-carita  where  the  tragic 
interest  prevails  throughout,  it  occurs  in  an  intensive  form 
at  the  beginning  of  the  play.  The  theorists  appear  to  maintain 

1  It  has,  however,  been  pointed  out  (Sukthankar  in  JBRAS,  1925,  p.  141)  that  the 
UrU'bhahga  is  not  intended  to  be  a  tragedy  in  one  act;  it  Js  only  the  surviving  intermediate 
act  of  a  lengthy  dramatised  version  of  the  Mohabliarata  story;  the  Trivandrum  dramas, 
therefore,  form  no  exception  to  the  general  rule  prohibiting  a  final  catastrophe. 


that     there  is   no   tragedy   in   the   mere   fact  of   death,    which 
in  itself   may   be   a   disgusting,  terrible  or  undignified    spectacle 
and  thus  produce  a  hiatus   in    the    aesthetic   pleasure.     Cruelty, 
murder,      dark     and     violent     passions,    terror     and     ferocity 
need    not   have   a   premium.     Undigested    horrors   are   gloomy, 
depressing  and  unhealthy  ;  they  are  without  dignity    or  decorum 
and  indicate  a  morbid  taste  ;  they  do   not   awaken   genuine   pity 
or   pathos.     The   Sanskrit    drama   generally   keeps   to   the  high 
road  of  life  and  never   seeks   the   by-lanes   of   blood-and-thunder 
tragedy,    or   representation   of  loathsome  and  unnatural  passions. 
Grim  realism,  in  its  view,  does  not  exalt   but   debase   the   mind, 
and   thereby   cause   a    disturbance  of  the  romantic  setting.     The 
theory   holds    that    tragedy    either   precedes   or  follows  the  fact 
of  death,  which  need  not  be  visually  represented,   but   the   effect 
of   which   may   be  utilised  for  evoking  the  pathetic.     It  appears, 
therefore,  that  tragedy  is   not   totally   neglected,    but   that   it   is 
often   unduly   subordinated    to    the    finer  sentiments  and  is  thus 
left   comparatively   undeveloped.     The   theory,   however,    misses 
the   inconsolable    hopelessness    which    a  tragic  ending  inevitably 
brings  ;  and  the  very  condition  of   happy   ending    makes    much 
of   the   tragedy    of    the    Sanskrit     drama     look     unconvincing. 
In  spite  of  the  unmistakable   tone  of   earnestness,    the  certainty 
of   reunion   necessarily    presents   the    pathos   of  severance   as  a 
temporary  and  therefore  needlessly  exaggerated  sentimentality. 

There  are  also  certain  other  conditions  and  circumstances 
which  seriously  affect  the  growth  of  the  Sanskrit  drama,  in  the 
same  way  as  they  affect  the  growth  of  Sanskrit  poetry.  From 
the  very  beginning  the  drama,  like  poetry,  appears  to  have 
moved  in  an  aristocratic  environment.  It^is  fostered  in  the  same 
elevated  and  rarefied  atmosphere^and^  isj^Pgcted  to  sbowjhe 
sam e  cha racte r i sties ,  being  regardedjjoth  ^yj-h^ory  and  practice, 
as  a  subdivision  of  the  Kavya,  to  the  general  aim^andTmethod 
of  which  it  was  more  and  more  approximated.  In  the  existing 
specimens  there  is  nothing  primitive  ;  we  have  neither  the 
infancy  of  the  drama  nor  the  drama  of  infancy.  The  Sanskrit 


drama  was  never  popular  in  the  sense  in  which  the  Greek  drama 
was.  It  is  essentially  a  developed  literary  drama,  inspired  by  the 
elegant  poetic  conventions  of  the  highly  cultured  Sahrdaya,  whose 
recognition  was  eagerly  coveted  ;  and  its  dominant  love-motif 
reflects  the  tastes  and  habits  of  the  polished  court-circle,  as  well 
as  of  the  cultivated  Nagaraka.  The  court-life  in  particular, 
which  forms  the  theme  of  a  number  of  plays  on  the  amourettes 
of  philandering  princes,  gives  an  opportunity  of  introducing 
song/  dance  and  music  ;  and  the  graceful  manner  and  erotic 
sentiment  become  appropriate.  In  course  of  time,  Poetics,  Erotics 
and  l|famaturgy  conventionalised  these  tastes  and  habits  ;  and 
refined  fancy  and  search  after  stylistic  effect  came  in  with  the 
gradual  preference  of  the  subtle  and  the  finical  to  the  fervid 
and  the  spontaneous.  The  graces  and  artificialities  of  poetry 
become  reflected  in  the  drama,  which  soon  loses  its  true 
accent  of  passion  and  fidelity  to  life. 

Although  the  theorists  lay  down   an    elaborate   classification 

of    the    various  categories  of  sentiments,  it  is  yet  curious  to  note 

that  in  practice  the   sentiments   that    are   usually   favoured   are 

Hhe   heroic   and    the   erotic,    with   just  an  occasional  suggestion 

of  the  marvellous.     This  accords  well  with  the  ideal  and  romantic 

character  of  the  clramn,  as  well  as  with  the  fabulous   and   sungr- 

— ~YH  ' — "^ — "^^ 

natural  elements  which  are  freely  introduced.     The  comic,  under 

the  circumstances,  hardly  receives  a  proper  treatment.  The 
Prahasana  and  the  Bhana  profess  to  appeal  to  the  comic  senti- 
ment, but  not  in  a  superior  form  ;  and  the  survival  of  an 
insignificant  and  limited  number  of  these  types  of  composition 
shows  that  they  did  not  succeed  very  well.  The  other  sentiments 
are  also  suggested  but  they  hardly  become  prominent.  Even 
in  the  heroic  or  lofty  subjects,  an  erotic  underplot  is  often 
introduced  ;  and  in  course  of  time  the  erotic  overshadows  every 
other  sentiment,  and  becomes  the  exclusive  and  universally 
appealing  theme.  It  is  true  that  the  love-plots,  which  predo- 
minate in  the  drama,  are  not  allowed  to  degenerate  into  mere 
portrayals  of  the  petty  domestic  difficulties  of  a  polygamic  systeip, 


but  the  dramatists  often  content  themselves  with  the  developing 
of  the  pretty  erotic  possibilities  by  a  stereotyped  sentimental 
scheme  of  love,  jealousy,  parting  and  reunion.  The  sciences 
of  Poetics  and  Erotics  take  a  keen  delight  ex  accidenti  in 
minutely  analysing  the  infinite  diversities  of  the  amatory  condition 
and  in  arranging  into  divisions  and  subdivisions,  according  to 
rank,  character,  circumstances  and  the  like,  all  conceivable  types 
of  the  hero,  the  heroine,  their  assistants  and  adjuncts,  as  well  as 
the  different  shades  of  their  feelings  and  gestures,  which  afford 
ample  opportunities  to  the  dramatic  poet  for  utilising  them 
for  their  exuberant  lyrical  stanzas.  This  technical  analysis 
and  the  authority  of  the  theorists  lead  to  the  establishment  of 
fixed  rules  and  rigid  conventions,  resulting  in  a  unique  growth 
of  refined  artificiality. 

There  is  indeed  a  great  deal  of  scholastic  formalism  in  the 
dramatic  theory  of  sentiment,  which  had  a  prejudicial  effect 
on  the  practice  of  the  dramatist.  The  fixed  category  of  eight 
or  nine  sentiments,  the  subordination  to  them  of  a  large  number 
of  transitory  emotions,  the  classification  of  determinants  and 
consequents,  the  various  devices  to  help  the  movement  of  the 
intrigue,:  the  normative  fixing  of  dramatic  junctures  or  stages 
in  accorflance  with  the  various  emotional  states,  the  arrangement 
of  the  dramatic  modes  (Vrttis)1  into  the  elegant  (Kausiki),  the 
energetic  (Sattvati),  the  violent  (ArabhatI),  and  the  verbal 
(Bharati),  according  as  the  sentiment  is  the  erotic,  the  heroic, 
the  marvellous*  or  only  general,  respectively — all  these,  no 
doubt,  indicate  considerable  power  of  empirical  analysis  arid 
subtlety,  and  properly  emphasise  the  emotional  effect  of  the 
drama  ;  but,  generally  speaking,  the  scholastic  pedantry 
concerns  itself  more  with  accidents  than  with  essentials,  and  the 
refinements  of  classification  are  often  as  needless2  as  they  are 

1  Bbarata's  description  shows  that  the  Vrttis  do  not  refer  to  mere  dramatic  styles,  but 
also  to  dramatic  machinery  and  representation  of  incidents  on  the  stage. 

*  E.g.,  classification  of  Naty&tamkaras  and  Laksanas,  the  subdivisions  of  the 
Satndbyangag,  etc* 


confusing.  Although  the  prescriptions  are  not  always  logical  but 
mostly  represent  generalisations  from  a  limited  number  of 
plays,  the  influence  of  the  theory  on  later  practice  is  undoubted. 
As  in  the  case  of  poetry,  the  result  is  not  an  unmixed  good;  and, 
after  the  creative  epoch  is  over,  we  have  greater  artificiality  and 
unreality  in  conception  and  expression.  Apart  from  various  limi- 
tations regarding  form,  theme,  plot  and  character,  one  remarkable 
drawback  of  the  dramatic  tlicory,  which  had  a  practical  effect  on 
the  development  of  the  drama  as  drama,  lies  in  the  fact  that  it 
enforces  concentration  of  the  sentiment  round  the  hero  or  the 
heroine,  and  does  not  permit  its  division  with  reference  to  the 
rival  of  the  hero,  who  therefore  becomes  a  far  inferior  character 
at  every  point.  The  theorists  arc  indeed  aw, ire  of  the  value  of 
contrast.  To  preserve  the  usual  romantic  atmosphere  the  ideal 
heroes  are  often  contrasted  with  vicious  antagonists.  But  the 
possibility  is  not  allowed  of  making  an  effective  dramatic  creation 
of  an  antagonist  (like  Havana,  for  instance),  who  often  becomes 
a  mere  stupid  and  boastful  villain.  The  Sanskrit  drama  is 
thereby  deprived  of  one  of  the  most  important  motifs  of  a  real 
dramatic  conflict. 

Ten  chief  (Rupaka)  and  ten  to  twenty  minor  (Uparupaka) 
types  of  the  Sanskrit  drama  are  recognised  by  the  Sanskrit 
dramatic  theory.1  The  classification  rests  chiefly  on  the  elements 
of  subject-matter  (Vastu),  hero  (Nayaka)  and  sentiment  (Rasa), 
but  also  secondarily  on  the  number  of  acts,  the  dramatic  modes 
and  structure.  The  distinctions  are  interesting  and  are  apparently 
based  upon  empirical  analysis  ;  they  show  the  variety  of  dramatic 
experiments  in  Sanskrit ;  but  since  few  old  examples  of  most  of  the 
types  exist,  the  discussion  becomes  purely  academic.  The  generic 
term  of  the  drama  is  Rupaka,  which  is  explained  as  denoting  any 
visible  representation  ;  but  of  its  ten  forms,  the  highest  is  the 
Nataka  which  is  taken  as  the  norm.  The  heroic  or  erotic 

1  For  an  analysis  of  the  various  types  and  specimens,  see  D.  R.  Mankad,  Types  of  Sans- 
krit Dramaf  cited  above. 


Nataka,  usually  consisting  of  five  to  ten  acts,  is  given  a  legendary 
subject-matter  and  a  hero  of  elevated  rank;  but  the  practice 
shows  that  it  is  comparatively  free  from  minor  restrictions.  The 
Prakarana  is  of  the  same  length  and  similar  structure,  but  it  is  a 
comedy  of  manners  of  a  rank  below  royalty,  with  an  invented 
subject  and  characters  drawn  from  the  middle  class  or  even  lower 
social  grades,  including  the  courtesan  as  the  heroine  and  rogues 
of  all  kind.  These  two  types,  the  Nataka  and  the  Prakarana,  are 
variations  of  the  full-fledged  drama  ;  but  the  details  of  the  other 
types  are  not  clear,  and  some  of  them  are  hardly  represented  in 
actual  specimens.  The  Samavakara,  in  three  acts,  is  the  super- 
natural and  heroic  drama  of  gods  and  demons,  involving  fight, 
fraud  and  disturbance,  but  of  this  we  have  no  early  specimen. 
For  a  similar  want  of  authentic  specimens,  it  is  difficult  to  dis- 
tinguish it  from  the  Pima,  usually  in  four  acts,  which  is  inade- 
quately described,  but  which  is  given  a  similar  legendary  theme 
with  a"  haughty  hero,  fight  and  sorcery,  and  the  furious  sentiment, 
its  name  being  derived  accordingly  from  a  hypothetical  root  dim, 
'  to  wound.'  The  Vyayoga,  as  its  name  suggests,  is  also  a  mili- 
tary spectacle,  with  a  legendary  subject  and  a  divine  or  human 
hero  engaged  in  strife  and  battle ;  but  it  is  in  one  act,  and  the 
cause  of  disturbance  is  not  a  woman,  the  erotic  and  the 
comic  sentiments  being  debarred.  The  type  is  old,  and  we  have 
some  specimens  left,  but  they  are  of  no  great  merit.  We  have, 
however,  no  living  tradition  of  the  Ihamrga,  the  %Vithi  and  the 
Utsrstanka.  The  first  of  these,  usually  extending  to  four  acts 
but  allowed  to  have  only  one,  has  a  fanciful  designation,  suppos- 
ed to  be  derived  from  its  partly  legendary  and  partly  invented 
theme  of  the  pursuit  (Iha)  of  a  maiden,  as  attainable  as  the 
gazelle  (Mrga),  by  a  divine  or  human  hero  of  a  haughty  character  ; 
but  in  it  there  is  only  a  show  of  conflict,  actual  fight  being 
avoided  by  artifice.  The  other  two  agree  in  having  only  one  act 
and  in  having  ordinary  heroes,  but  the  erotic  and  the  pathetic 
sentiments  (with  plenty  of  wailings  of  women !)  respectively 
predominate.  The  obscure  name  Vlthl,  c  Garland/  is  explained 



by  its  having  a  string  of  other  subsidiary  sentiments  as  well.1 
The  name  Utsrstanka  is  variously  explained,2  but  since  one  of  the 
explanations  8  speaks  of  its  having  a  kind  of  inverted  action,  it  is 
suggested  that  it  may  have  had  a  .tr.-igic  ending,  contrary  to 
ordinary  practice.  The  Bhana,  on  the  other  hand,  is  fortunate 
in  having  some  old  and  late  specimens.  It  is  also  a  one-act 
play,  erotic  in  character,  but  with  only  one  hero-actor,  namely 
the  Vita ;  it  is  carried  on  in  monologue,  the  theme  progressing 
by  a  chain  of  answers  given  by  him  to  imaginary  words  '  spoken 
in  the  air/  and  usually  describing  the  love-adventures  of  the 
hero.4  The  comic  is  sometimes  introduced  in  it ;  and  in  this 
feature,  as  well  as  in  the  ribald  character  of  the  "  hero/1  it  has 
affinity  with  the  next  type,  namely,  the  Prahasana,  the  one-act 
farce,  the  theme  of  which  consists  of  the  tricks  and  quarrels  of 
low  characters ;  but  the  Sanskrit  farce  has  little  appeal  because  of 
its  lack  of  invention  and  somewhat  broad  and  coarse  laughter. 

As  the  very  name  Uparupaka  implies,  the  eighteen  minor 
forms  of  the  drama  were  evolved  much  later,  but  it  is  difficult 
to  say  at  what  period  they  carne  into  existence.  Bharata  does 
not  deal  with  any  Uparupaka,  except  the  NatI  (xviii.  106);  and  the 
first  enumeration  of  seventeen  varieties,  without  the  designation  of 
Uparupaka  and  without  any  discussion,  occurs  in  the  Alamkara 
section  of  the  Agni-purana  (c.  9th  century).  Abhinavagupta  only 
incidentally  mentions  nine,  and  the  commentary  on  the  Da£ar&paha 

1  B'lt  the  Natya-darpona  suggests  :  vokrokti-mdrgena    gamandd    rithlva  mfhi. 

2  E.g.,  vtkraminonmuliha  srstir    jwitairi   yasam  ta  uisritika    tocantyah   striyns    t&bhir 
ahkitatrdd  ulsrstikahkah  from  the  Natya-darpana  (ed.  GOS,  Haroda,  1920,  p.  180).    Or,  ViSva- 
natha's  alternative  suggestion  :  natakadyantahpatyahka-paricclieriartham  utsrstdhkah. 

3  utsrsta  viloma-rupa  srstir  yatra,  ViSvanatha  in  Sahitya-darpana. 

4  It  is  curious  that  in  the  Bhftna,  Bharata  forbids  the  Kabs'ikl   mode,  which  gives  scope  to 
love  and  gallantry  and  which  is  eminently  suitable  to  an  erotic  pUy ;  but  the  element  of  Lasya 
is  allowel,of  which,  however,  little  trace   remains   in    the    existing    specimens,    but  which 
is  probably  a  survival  in  theory  of  what  probably  was  a  feature    in  practice.     D.    R.  Mankad 
(op.  cit.)  puts  forward  the  attractive,  but  doubtful,  theory   that  the  one-act  monologue    play, 
the  Bhana,  was  the  first  dramatic  type  to  evolve ;  but  in  spite  of  its    seemingly   loose   dramatic 
technique,  it  is  too  artificial  in  device  to  be  primitive,  or  even  purely  popular   in   origin, 

the  existing  specimens  are  late  and  have  a  distinctly  literary  form. 


only  seven  in  the  same  way.  Some  of  the  minor  forms  are  doubt- 
less variations  or  refinements  on  the  original  Rupaka  varieties,  but 
there  is  some  substance  in  the  contention  1  that,  as  the  Natyacame 
to  be  distinguished  from  the  Nrtya,  the  Rupaka  was  mainly  based 
onjhejjla^a  and  the  Uparupaka  on  the  Nrtya.  It  is  highly 
possible  that  while  the  rhythmic  dance  was  incorporating 

histrionics  into  itself,  it  was  at  the  same  time  developing  the 
minor  operatic  forms,  in  which  dance  and  music  originally 

predominated,  but  which  gradually  modelled  itself  on  the  regular 
drama.  The  Natika,  for  instance,  is  the  lesser  heroic  and  erotic 
Nataka,  just  au  the  Prakaranika,  admitted  by  some,  is  a  lesser 
Prakarana;  but  in  both  these  there  are  opportunities  of  introdu- 
cing song,  dance  and  music.  The  Sattaka  is  only  a  variation  of 
the  Natika  in  having  Prakrit  as  the  medium  of  expression  ; 
while  the  Trotaka,  but  for  the  musical  element,  is  hardly  dis- 
tinguishable in  itself  from  the  Nataka.  The  remaining  forms 
have  no  representative  in  early  literature  and  need  not  be  enu- 
merated here  ;  they  show  rather  the  character  of  pantomime, 
with  song,  dance  and  music,  than  of  serious  drama.  Whatever 
scholastic  value  these  classifications  may  possess,  it  is  not  of 
much  significance  in  the  historical  development  of  the  drama, 
for  most  of  the  varieties  remain  unrepresented  in  actual  practice. 
The  earlier  drama  does  not  appear  to  subscribe  fully  to  the  rigidity 
of  the  prescribed  forms,  and  it  is  only  in  a  general  way  that  we 
can  really  fit  the  definitions  to  the  extant  specimens. 

In  the  theoretical  works,  everything  is  acholastically  classified 
and  neatly  catalogued  ;  forms  of  the  drama,  types  of  heroes  and 
heroines,  their  feelings,  qualities,  gestures,  costumes,  make-up, 
situations,  dialects,  modes  of  address  and  manner  of  acting.  All 
this  perhaps  gives  the  impresssion  of  a  theatre  of  living  mario- 
nettes. But  in  practice,  the  histrionic  talent  succeeds  in  infusing 

1  Mankad  in  the  work  cit^d.  The  term  Upartipaka  is  very  late,  the  earliar  designations 
being  Nrtyaprakara  and  Geyarupaka.  On  the  technical  difference  between  Rupaka  and 
Upapiipaka,  see  Hernacandra,  Kavyanusasana,  ed.  NSP,  Comin.  p.  329  f. 


blood  into  the  puppets  and  translating  dry  formulas  into  lively 
forms  of  beauty,  while  poetic  genius  overcomes  learned  scholas- 
ticism and  creates  a  drama  from  the  conflict  of  types  and 



1.       ASVAGiJOSV    AND    HiS    bCHOOL 

Fifty  years  ago  Asvaghosa  was  nothing  more  than  a  name, 
but  to-day  all  his  important  works  have  been  published,  and  he 
is  recognised  as  the  first  great  Kavya-poet  and  precursor  of 
Kalidfisa.  Very  little  however,  is  known  of  his  personal  history 
except  what  is  vouchsafed  by  legends  *  and  what  can  be  gathered 
from  his  works  themselves.  The  colophons  to  his  Kfivyas  agree  in 
describing  him  as  a  Bhiksu  or  Buddhist  monk  of  Saketa  (Ayodhya) 
and  as  the  son  of  Suvarnaksi,  *  of  golden  eyes/  which  was  the  name 
of  his  mother.  They  also  add  the  style  of  Acarya  and  Bhadanta, 
as  well  as  of  Mahakavi  and  Mahavadin.  As  an  easterner, 
Asvaghosa's  admiration  of  the  Ramayana  2  is  explicable,  while  it 
is  probable  that  he  belonged  to  some  such  Buddhist  school  of 
eastern  origin  as  the  Mahasanghika  or  the  Bahusrutika.8  He 
makes  little  display  of  purely  scholastic  knowledge ;  but  the 
evidence  of  his  works  makes  it  clear  that  he  had  a  considerable 
mastery  over  the  technical  literature  which  a  Sanskrit  poet  was 
expected  to  possess,  and  a  much  wider  acquaintance  than  most 
other  Buddhist  writers  of  the  various  branches  of  Brahmanical 
learning.  His  Sanskrit  is  not  strictly  faultless,  but  his  easy 
command  over  it  is  undoubtedly  not  inferior  to  that  of  most 

1  A  legendaiy  biography  of   Asvaghosa   was   translated   into   Chinese  hy  Kum§rajlvc 
between  401  and  409  A.D. ;  extracts  from  it  in  W.  Wassiljew,  Der  Buddhismus,  St.  Petersburg 
I860,  p.  iJ81  f.   Cf.  J^t  1908, 11,  p.  65  for  Chinese  authorities  on  the  Asvagho§a  legend. 

2  On  the  poet's  indebtedness  to  the  liamayana,  which  Cowell   and   Johnston   deal   witl 
in  the  introductions  to  their  respective  editions  of    the    Buddha-carita,   see  also  A.  Gawronski 
Studies  about  the  Sanskrit-Buddhist  Lit.,  Krakow,  1'JIU,    ip,  27-40;  C.   W.  Gurner  in  JASB 
XX11,  IU'27,  p.  347  f ;  Wmteruitz,  HJL,  1,  p.  5J'2  f. 

3  See  Johnston,  op.  cit.9  pt.  II,  introd.,  p.  xxxi  f. 


Sanskrit  writers.  Everywhere  great  respect  is  shown  toBrahma- 
nical  ideas  and  institutions,  and  it  is  not  improbable  that  he  was 
born  a  Brahman  and  given  a  Brahman's  education  before  he 
went  over  to  Buddhism.  The  obvious  interest  he  shows  in  the 
theme  of  conversion  in  at  least  two  of  his  works  and  the  zeal 
which  he  evinces  for  his  faith  perhaps  fortify  this  presumption. 
The  Chinese  tradition  makes  l  Asvaghosa  a  contemporary  and 
spiritual  counsellor  of  king  Kaniska.  The  poet  did  not  probably 
live  later  than  the  king,  and  it  would  not  be  wrong  to  put  the 
lower  limit  of  his  date  at  100  A.D.  But 'in  associating  with 
Asvaghosa  the  Sarvastivadin  Vibhasa  commentary  on  the 
Abhidharma,  or  in  naming  the  Vibhasa  scholar  Parsva  or  his 
pupil  Punyayasas  as  having  converted  Asvaghosa,  the  tradition, 
which  cannot  be  traced  further  than  the  end  of  the  4th  century 
and  which  shows  more  amiable  than  historical  imagination,  is 
perhaps  actuated  by  the  motive  of  exalting  the  authority  of  this 
school ;  for  neither  the  date  of  the  commentary  is  certain,  nor  can 
the  special  doctrines  of  the  Sarvastivadins  be  definitely  traced  in 
the  unquestioned  works  of  Asvaghosa.  That  he  was  a  follower 
of  Hinayana  and  took  his  stand  on  earlier  dogmatism  admits  of 
little  doubt,  but  he  was  less  of  a  scholastic  philosopher  than  an 
earnest  believer,  and  his  emphasis  on  personal  love  and  devotion 
to  the  Buddha  perhaps  prepared  the  way  for  Mahayana  Bhakti, 
of  which  he  is  enumerated  as  one  of  the  patriarchs.  It  is  not 
necessary  for  us  to  linger  over  the  question  of  his  scholarship  or 
religion ;  2  but  it  should  be  noted  that,  while  his  wide  scholarship 
informs  his  poems  with  a  richer  content,  it  seldom  degenerates 
into  mere  pedantry,  and  the  sincerity  of  his  religious  convictions 

1  On  Chinese  and  other  Buddhist  sources  concerning   As"vagho§a,   see   S.    Levi  in   JA, 
1892,  p.  201f ;  1896,  II,  p.  444  f ;  1908,  II,  p.  67  f ;  1928,  II,  p.  193 ;    M.  Anesaki  in   ERE,  IT, 
1909,  p.  159  f  and  reff. ;  T.  Suzuki  in  the  work  cited  below.  On  Kaniska 's  date,  see  Winternitz, 
HJL,  II,  App.  V,  pp.  611-14  for  a  summary  of  different  views. 

2  The   question    is    discussed   by  Johnston     in     his     introduction.     Some     doctrines 
peculiar  to  Mabayana   have   been    traced   iu  As*vaghosa's   genuine  works,  but  his  date  is  too 
early   for   anything  other   than    primitive   Mabayana.     The   recommendation  of  Yogacara  in 
Saundar&nanda  XIV.  18  and  XX.  68  need  not  refer  to  the  YogScara  school,  but  perhaps  alludes 
only  to  the  practice  of  Yoga  in  general. 


imparts  life  and  enthusiasm  to  his   impassioned   utterances,   and/ 
redeems   them   from   being    mere   dogmatic   tredtises  or  literary 

To  later  Buddhism  A6vaghosa  is  a  figure  of  romance,  and 
the  Chinese  and  Tibetan  translations  of  Sanskrit  works,  made  in 
later  times,  ascribe  to  him  a  number  of  religious  or  philosophical 
writings,  some  of  which  belong  to  developed  Mahayana.1  In  the 
absence  of  Sanskrit  originals,  it  is  impossible  to  decide  Agva- 
ghosa's  authorship;  but  since  they  have  not  much  literary 
pretensions  it  is  not  necessary  for  us  to  discuss  the  question. 
Among  these  doubtful  works,  the  Mahayana-£raddhotpada-£astra9 
which  attempts  a  synthesis  of  Vijnana-vada  and  Madhyamika 
doctrines,  has  assumed  importance  from  its  being  translated  into 
English,2  under  the  title  '  Asvaghosa's  Discourse  on  the  Awaken- 
ing of  Faith/  from  the  second  Chinese  version  made  about  700 
A.D.  ;  but  the  internal  evidence  of  full-grown  Mahayana  doctrine 
in  the  work  itself  puts  Asvaghosa's  authorship  out  of  the  ques- 
tion. Another  work,  entitled  Vajrasucl  'the  Diamond-needle',8  a 
clever  polemic  on  Brahmanical  caste,  has  also  been  published, 
but  it  is  not  mentioned  among  Asvaghosa's  works  by  the  Chinese 
pilgrim  Yi-tsing  (7th  century)  nor  by  the  Bstan-hgyur,  and  it 
shows  little  of  Asvaghosa's  style  or  mentality  ;  the  Chinese 
translation,  which  $fp  made  between  973  and  981  A.D.,  perhaps 
rightly  ascribes  it  TO  Dharmakirti.  Of  greater  interest  is  the 
Gandl-stotra-gatlia,  a  small  poem  of  twenty-nine  stanzas,  com- 
posed mostly  in  the  Sragdhara,  metre,  the  Sanskrit  text  of  which 
has  been  restored  4  and  edited.  It  is  in  praise  of  the  Gandl,  the 

1  A  full  list  is  given  by  F.  W.  Thomas  in  Kvs,  introd.,  p.  26  f , 

2  by  T.  Suzuki,  Chicago  1900.     Takakusu  states  that  the  earher  catalogue  of    Chinese 
texts   omits  the   name  of   A6vaghosa   as  the   author  #f  this  work.     The  question  of  several 
As"vaghosas  is  discussed  by  Suzuki  and  Anesaki,  cited  above.     On   this   work    see  Winternitz, 
H/L,It,  pp.  36162andreff. 

3  ed.    and    trs    by   Weber,  Uber  die  Vajrasuci,  in   Abhandl.  d.  Berliner  Akad.,  1859, 
pp.  205-64,  where  the  problem  of  authorship  is  discussed. 

4  by   A.   Von    Stael-Holateiu,   in    Bibl.    Buddb.,  no.  XV,  St.   Petersburg  1913,    and 
re-edited  by  E.  H.  Johnston  in  I  A,  1933,  pp.  61-70,  where  the  authorship  of  Afoaghosa  has  been 
questioned.    Of.  F.  W.  Thomas  in  JRAS,  1914,  p.  752  f. 


Buddhist  monastery  gong,  consisting  of  a  long  symmetrical  piece 
of  wood,  and  of  the  religious  message  which  its  sound  is  supposed 
to  carry  when  beaten  with  a  short  wooden  club.  The  poem  is 
marked  by  some  metrical  skill,  but  one  of  its  stanzes  (st.  20) 
shows  that  it  was  composed  in  Kashmir  at  a  much  later  time.1 

The  next  apocryphal  work  is  the  Siitralamkara,2  over  the 
authorship  of  which  there  has  been  a  great  deal  of  controversy.8 
The  Chinese  translation  of  the  work,  made  by  KumarajTva  about 
405  A.D.  assigns  it  to  A£vaghosa ;  but  fragments  of  the  same 
work  in  Sanskrit  were  discovered  in  Central  Asia  and  identified 
by  H.  Liiders,4  who  maintains  that  the  author  was  Kumaralata, 
probably  a  junior  contemporary  of  A6vaghosa,  and  that  the  work 
bore  in  Sanskrit  the  title  of  Kalpana-manditika  or  Kalpana- 
lamkrtikd.  As  the  name  indicates,  it  is  a  collection  of  moral  tales 
and  legends,  told  after  the  manner  of  the  Jatakas  and  Avadanas  in 
prose  and  verse,  but  in  the  style  of  the  ornate  Kavya.  Some  of 
the  stories,  such  as  those  of  Dirghayus  and  Sibi,  are  old,  but 
others  clearly  inculcate  Buddha-bhakti  in  the  spirit  of  the  Maha- 
yana.  The  work  illustrates  the  ability  to  turn  the  tale  into  an 
instrument  of  Buddhist  propaganda,  but  it  also  displays  wide 
culture,  mentions  the  two  Indian  Epics,  the  Samkhya  and  Vaise- 
sika  systems,  the  Jaina  doctrines  and  the  law-book  of  Manu,  and 
achieves  considerable  literary  distinction.  It  is  unfortunate  that 
the  Sanskrit  text  exists  only  in  fragments.  Yuan  Ghwang 
informs  us  that  Kumaralata  was  the  founder  of  the  Sautrantika 
school  and  came  from  Taxila  ;  it  is  not  surprising,  therefore,  that 

1  A  work,  entitled   Tridarnja-mala,    is   ascribed    to    Asvaghosa   in  JBORS,  XXTV,    1938, 
pp,  157-fiO,  b-it  JoLnston,  ibid,  XXV,  1939,  p.  11  f,  disputes  it 

2  Translated  into  French  on  the  Chinese  version  of  Kumara;iva,  by  Ed.  Huber,   Paris    1908. 

3  For  references  Fee   Tormmatsu  in  JAt  1931,  IT,  p.  135  f.     Also  L.  de  la  Valise  Pouasin, 
VijflaptimatrasiddJn,  pp.  221-24. 

4  Bruchstiicke     der     Kalpanamanditiha    des  Kumaralata  in    Kongl      Treuss     Turfan- 
Expeditiomn,Kleinere  Sanskrit-Texte  II,  Leipzig  1926.     The    fragments   are    valuable,   but 
unfortunately  they  are  too  few  in  number,  and  the  work  is  still  to  be  judged  on  the  basis  of  the 
Chinese  version.     Some  scholars  hold  that  A£vaghosa  waa  the  real    author,    and    Kumaralata 
only  refashioned  the  work ;  but  it  is  now  generally  agreed  that  A6vagho?a   had   nothing   to  do 
with  its  composition. 


t  he  work  pays  respect  to  the  Sarvastivadins,  from  whom  the 
Sautrantikas  originated,  or  that  some  of  its  stories  can  be  traced 
in  the  works  of  the  school.  In  two  stories  (nos.  14  and  31), 
Kaniska  appears  as  a  king  who  has  already  passed  away ;  the 
work,  apparently  written  some  time  after  Kaniska's  death, 
cannot,  therefore,  be  dated  earlier  than  the  2nd  century  A.D.1 

The  three  works,  which  are  known  for  certain  to  be  Asva- 
ghosa's,  are  :  the  Bnddha-carita,  the  Saundarananda  and  the 
Sariputra-prakarana  ;  and  his  fame  as  a  great  Sanskrit  poet  rests 
entirely  on  these.  The  first,  in  its  original  form  of  twenty-eight 
cantos,  known  to  Yi-tsing  and  to  the  Chinese  and  Tibetan  versions, 
is  a  complete  Mahakavya  on  the  life  of  the  Buddha,  which  begins 
with  his  birth  and  closes  with  an  account  of  the  war  over  the 
relics,  the  first  Council,  and  the  reign  of  A^oka.  In  Sanskrit2 
only  cantos  two  to  thirteen  exist  in  their  entirety,  together  with 
about  three  quarters  of  the  first  and  the  first  quarter  ot  the  four- 
teenth (up  to  st.  31),  carrying  the  narrative  down  to  the  Buddha's 
temptation,  defeat  of  Mara  and  his  enlightenment.  It  is  the 
work  of  a  real  poet  who,  actuated  by  intense  devotion  to  the 
Buddha  and  the  truth  ol!  his  doctrine,  has  studied  the  scripture 
and  is  careful  to  use  the  authoritative  sources  open  to  him,  but 
who  has  no  special  inclination  to  the  marvellous  and  the  mira- 
culous, and  reduces  the  earlier  extravagant  and  chaotic  legends  to 
the  measure  and  form  of  the  Kfivya.  Asvaghosa  does  not  depart  in 

1  If,  however,  Harivarman,  a  pupil  of  Kumaralata,  was   a  contemporary   of    Vasubandhu, 
then  Kumaralata  could  not  have  been  a  younger  contemporary  of    Asvaghosa,    but    should    be 
dated  not  earlier  than  the  3rd  century  A  D. 

2  Ed.  E.  B.  Cowell,  Oxford  1893,  containing  four    alditional    cantos   by    Arartananda,    a 
Nepaleae  Pandit  of  the  19th  century,  win  records  at  the  end  that  he  wrote    the  supplement   in 
1830  A. D.,  because  he  could  not  find    a    complete    manuscript   of    the    te*t.     Also    trs.    into 
English  by  Cowell  in  SBE,  vol.  49;  into  German  by  C.  Cappeller,  .lena    1922;   into  Italian  by 
C  Fonnichi,  Bari  1912.     Re-edited  more   critically,   and   translated   into    English,   by  E.  H 
Johnston  in  2  vols.,  Calcutt  t    1936   (Panjab  Ooiv.  Orient.  Publ.  Nos.  31-32),    which    may    be 
consulted  for  bibliography  of  other  Indian  editions  and  for  critical  and  exegetical  contributions 
to  the  subject  by  various  scholars.     Johnston  remarks  :  "The  textual  tradition   of  the    extant 
portion  is  bad,  and  a  sound  edition  is  only  made  possible  by  comparison  with  the   Tibetan  and 
Chinese  translations."    The  Tibetan  text,  with  German  translation,  under  the  title  Da*  Ltben 
des  Buddha  von  Ahagliosa,  is  given  by  F.  Weller,  in  two  parts,  Leipzig  1926,  1928, 



essentials  from  the  received  tradition,  but  he  succeeds  in  infusing 
into  his  well  conceived  and  vivid  narrative  the  depth  of  his  religious 
feeling  and  the  spontaneity  of  his  poetic  emotion.  Not  unworthily 
praised  is  the  skilful  picture  he  draws  of  the  young  prince 
Sarvarthasiddhi's  journey  through  the  city,  of  the  throng  of  fair 
women  who  hasten  to  watch  him  pass  by,  of  the  hateful  spectacle 
of  disease,  old  age  and  death  which  he  encounters  on  the  way,  of 
the  womanly  blandishments  and  the  political  arguments  of 
wisdom  set  forth  by  the  family  priest,  which  seek  to  divert  the 
prince's  mind  from  brooding  thoughts  of  resignation,  as  well  as 
of  the  famous  night-scene  of  sleeping  women,  who  in  their 
moment  of  unconsciousness  present  all  the  loathsome  signs  of 
human  misery  and  thereby  hasten  the  flight  of  the  prince  from 
the  palace.  The  requirement  of  a  battle-scene  in  the  Kavya  is 
fulfilled  by  the  pleasing  variation  of  the  spirited  description  of  the 
Buddha's  fight  with  Mara  and  his  hosts.1  The  work  is,  there- 
fore, not  a  bare  recital  of  incident,  nor  is  it  a  dry  and  dogmatic 
exposition  of  Buddhist  doctrine,  but  the  Buddha-legend  is  con- 
ceived in  the  spirit  of  the  Kavya  in  respect  of  narrative,  diction 
and  imagery,  and  the  poet's  flame  of  faith  makes  the  best  lines  of 
the  poem  quiver  with  the  needed  glow. 

The  Saundarananda2,  all  the  eighteen  cantos  of  which  are 
preserved  in  Sanskrit,  is  connected  also  with  the  story  of  the 
Buddha;  but  its  actual  theme  is  the  conversion  of  his  reluctant 
half-brother,  Nanda,  nicknamed  Sundara  for  his  handsome 
appearance.  Nothing  more  than  a  mention  of  the  fact  of 

1  Parallelisms  between  As*vaghosa  and  Kalid&sa  in  some  of  these  passages,   not    only    in 
ideas  but  also  in  diction  and  imagery,  have  been  set  forth  in  detail  in  Nandargikar's  introduc- 
tion to  bis  edition  of  Raghu-varnsa  (3rd  ed,,  Bombay  1897,  pp.  163-96) ;  but  the  argument  based 
thereon  that  Kalidasa  was  earlier  and  As*vaghosa  imitated  him  has  not  found   general    support 
and  is  very  unlikely. 

2  Discovered  and  edited   by   Haraprasad    Shastri,  Bibl.   Ind.,   Calcutta   1910;  critically 
re-edited  and  translated  into  English  by  E.   H    Johnston,   Oxford  Univ.   Press,  1928,  1932 
which  gives  full  bibliography.    In   spite   of  the   richer  content  and  wider  interest  of   the 
Buddha-carita,  Johnston  is  of  opinion  that  "  the  handling  of  the  Saundarananda  is  altogether 
more  mature  and  assured  than  that  of  the  Buddha-carita  " ;  Contra    Winternitz,   ffIL,  IJ, 
p.  262  note, 


conversion  is  found    in    the    Maharayga  and    the  Nidana-katha  ; 

and  the  subject  is   perhaps  too   slender  to   support  an   extensive 

poem.     But  the  opportunity  is  taken,  in    the  earlier    part   of  the 

poem,  to  expand  the    legend    with  the    proper   Kavya-embellish- 

ments,  and  in  the  latter  part,  to  give  expression    at  length  to  the 

poet's    religious   ideas    and   convictions.     The    first   six   cantos, 

therefore,  describe  the  mythical   foundation    of   Kapilavastu,    its 

king,  the  birth  of  the  Buddha  and  Nanda,    the    lutter's   love   for 

his  wife  Sundarl,    the  forcible  conversion  of  Nanda   to  the  life  of 

a  monk,  which  he  intensely  dislikes,  his   conflict  of  feelings,  and 

Sundari's  lament   for   her   lost    husband.     All    this    is   pictured 

skilfully  in  the  manner  and  diction   of   the   Kavya,  and  possesses 

considerable   narrative   interest  ;    but    in  the   rest   of  the   poem 

there  is  not  much  of  description  or  narration  except    the   account 

of  Nanda's  ascent  to  heaven  and  yearning  for   Apsarases.     Entire 

space  is,  therefore,  devoted  to  an    impassioned   exposition  of   the 

evils  of  pride  and  lust,  the  vanities  of  the  world  and   the   joys  of 

enlightenment.     Here,  more  than  in   the    imaginative   presenta- 

tion of  the    Buddha-legend,  Asvaghosa    the    preacher,  no    doubt, 

gets  the  upper  hand    of   Asvaghosa   the   poet  ;  but    in    this   very 

conflict  between  his  poetic   temperament   and   religious    passion, 

which  finds  delight    in  all    that  is   delightful   and  yet    discards  it 

as  empty  and  unsatisfying,  lies  the  secret  of  the   spontaneity   and 

forcefulness    which    forms    the   real    appeal   of    his.  poetry.     It 

is  not  merely  the  zeal  of    the   convert    but    the    conviction  of  the 

importance  of  what  he  has    to   say   that   often   makes   him  scorn 

mere  verbal  polish   and   learned   ostentation    and  speak  with   an 

overmastering  directness,  the  very  truth  and  enthusiasm  of  which 

sharpen  his  gift  of  pointed   phrasing,    balance  his   sentences  and 

add  a  new  zest  to  his  emotional  earnestness. 

In  this  respect  Asvaghosa's  poetry  lacks  the  technical  finish 
and  subtlety  of  the  later  Kavya  ;  but  it  possesses  freshness  of 
feeling  in  the  simplicity  and  nobility  born  of  passionate  faith. 
Asvaghosa  is  fully  conversant  with  the  Brahman  ical  atid  Buddhi- 
stic learning  of  his  day,  while  his  metrical  skill  and  use  of 

76  HISTORY   OF    SANS  KBIT  LltERATt)  ftfi 

rhetorical  ornaments  betoken  his  familiarity  with  the   poetic  art1 ; 
but  the  inherent  contrast  between  the  poet  and  the  artist,  on  the 
one  handj  and  the  scholar  and  the  preacher,  on  the  other,  often 
results  in  strange  inequalities   of  matter  and   manner.     At  the 
conclusion  of  his  poems,    Agvaghosa  declares    that  he  is  writing 
for  a  larger  public,  and   not   merely  for   a  learned  audience,  for 
the  attainment  of  peace   and   not  for   the  display  of  skill  in  the 
Kavya.     The  question,   therefore,    whether   he   belongs  to  this 
or  that  school  of  thought,  or  whether   he  employs  this  or   that 
metre  or  ornament  in  his  poems  is  immaterial ;  what  is  material 
to  recognise   is   that  religion   is   not   his   theme,  but   religious 
emotion,  which  supplies  the  necessary  impetus  and   evolves  its 
own  form  of  expression  without  making  a  fetish  of  mere  rhetoric 
or  mere  dogma.    ASvagbosa    is   a  poet   by  nature,   a   highly 
cultivated  man  by  training,  and  a  deeply  religious  devotee  by 
conviction.     This  unique   combination   is   often   real  and   vital 
enough  to  lift  his  poetry  from  the  dead  level  of  the  commonplace 
and  the  conventional,  and  impart  to  it  a  genuine  emotional  tone 
which  is  rare  in  later  poetry.    What  is  most  pleasing  in  his 
work  to  modern  taste  is  his  power  of  combining  a  sense  of  reality 
and  poetry  with  the   skill   of  art   and   scholarship.     His  narra- 
tive, therefore^  is  never   dull,  his  choice  of  incident  and  arrange- 
ment never  incoherent,    his  diction   seldom   laboured  and   his 
expression  rarely  devoid   of  elegant   simplicity.     If  he  is  not  a 
finished  artist  in  the  sense  in  which  his  successors  are,   nor  even 
a  great  poet  capable  of  great  things,  his  poetic  inspiration  is 
genuine,  and  he  never  speaks  in  a  tiresome  falsetto.     If  his  poetry 
has   not  the   stress  and  discipline  of  chiselled  beauty,   it  has  the 
pliability  and  promise  of  unrefined  form ;  it  has  the  sincerity  and 
the  throb;  if  not  the  perfectly  ordered  harmony,  of  full-grown  music. 
Agvaghosa's  versatility   is  indicated  by  his  third  work,2  a 
Prakaraija  or  nine-act  drama,   entitled  8ariputra-prakarana  (or 

1    On  Asvagbo§a  as  scholar  and  artist,  see  Johnston,  op.  eft.,  pt.  II,  pp-  xliv-lxxix. 
*    H.  Liiders,  D<ia  Sftriputraprakaran>,  ein  Drama  .des  A6vagho^,  in  Sitzungsberichtc 
d  Berliner  Akad.,  1911,  p.  388  f. 


3aradvatiputra°),  of  which  only  fragments  on  palm  leaf  were 
discovered  in  Central  Asia  and  a  few  passages  restored  by 
Liiders.  Fortunately  the  colophon  exists,  and  the  question  of 
authorship  and  name  of  the  work  is  beyond  doubt.  Its  theme 
is,  again,  an  act  of  conversion  connected  with  the  Buddha, 
namely,  that  of  Sariputra  and  Maudgalyayana,  but  the  fragments 
give  us  little  idea  of  the  way  in  which  the  story,  well-known 
from  such  older  sources  as  the  Mahavagya,  was  handled,  in 
having  a  Prakrit-speaking  Vidusaka  as  one  of  the  characters  and 
in  conforming  to  the  requirements  regarding  division  into  acts, 
use  of  literary  Prakrits,1  ornamental  metrical  excursions 2  and  other 
details,  the  fragments,  however,  afford  clear  testimony  that 
the  method  and  technique  of  a  fairly  developed  Sanskrit 
drama  3  were  already  established  in  the  1st  or  2nd  century  A.D. 
This  presumption  is  confirmed  a-lso  by  the  fragments  of  two 
other  ,  plays,4  which  were  discovered  with  the  remains  of 
tSariputra-prakarana,  but  which  bear  no  testimony  of  authorship  and 
may  or  may  not  have  been  written  by  ^Tsvaghosa.  The  first  has 
for  its  theme  a  Buddhist  allegory,  of  which  the  details  are  not 
clear,  although  a  whole  leaf  of  the  manuscript  has  been  recovered. 
It  has  Kirti  'Fame/  Dhrti  '  Firmness'  and  Buddhi  '  Wisdom  ' 
as  characters,  and  apparently  foreshadows  such  allegorical  plays 
as  Krsnamisra's  Prabodha-candrodaya  of  a  much  later  time. 
The  Buddha  himself  appears,  as  in  the  drama  described  above, 
and  all  the  characters,  so  far  as  the  fragments  go,  speak 
Sanskrit.  In  having  real,  as  well  as  allegorical,  figures,  it 

1  On  the  Prakrits  employed  in  this  and  the  following  plays,  see  Liiders  in  the  works 
cited,  and  Keith,  HSL,  pp.  85-89.  The  Prakrit  ia  literary  and  shows  the  influence  of 

3  The  metres  employed  (besides  Sloka)  are  the  usual  classical  ones ;  Arya,  Upajati,  Salim, 
VamSastbavila,   Vaaantatilaka,  Malinl,   Sikharinl,  Harinf,  Suvadanft,  Sardulavikrujita  and 

8  Contra  Sten  Konow,  Indische  Drama,  Berlin  and  Leipzig  1920,  p.  50,  but  the 
grounds  are  weak. 

4  H.    Liiders,    Bruchstticke    buddhisHscher    Dramen,    Kongl.  Preuss.  Turfan-Expen- 
tionen,  Kleinere  Sanskrit-Texte   I,   Berlin  1911,    The  questiot   of  authorship  is  undecided ; 
see  Johnston,  op.  cit.,  pp.  xx-xxii. 

8  HlSlmV  Ol?   SANSKRIT 

resembles  more  the  Caitanya-candrodaya  of  Kavikarnapura  in 
its  manner  of  treatment,  but  no  definite  conclusion  is  possible. 
The  other  play  appears  to  have  been  al&o  intended  for  religious 
edification,  but  from  what  remains  of  it  we  may  infer  that  it 
was  a  social  drama  of  middle  class  life  of  the  type  of  the 
MTCchakatika.  It  concerns  a  young  voluptuary,  called  simply 
the  Nayaka  and  probably  named  Somadatta,  and  his  mistress 
Magadhavati,  apparently  a  courtesan  converted  to  Buddhism. 
There  are  also  a  Prince  (Bhattidalaka),  an  ever-hungry  Vidusaka, 
named  Kaumudagandha,  a  maid-servant,  and  a  Dusta  or  Rogue. 
The  fragments  are  few  in  number  and  not  consecutive,  and  it 
is  difficult  to  make  out  the  story.  But  in  view  of  the  uncertainty 
of  the  origin  and  antiquity  of  the  Sanskrit  Drama,  these 
specimens,  which  belong  probably  to  the  same  age,  are  highly 
interesting  ;  for  they  reveal  the  drama  in  its  first  appearance  in  a 
relatively  perfected  form,  and  clearly  indicate  that  its  origin 
should  antedate  the  Christian  era. 

From  the  literary  point  of  view,  A^vaghosa's  achievement, 
we  have  seen,  is  marked  not  so  much  by  crudity  and  primitive- 
ness  as  by  simplicity  and  moderation  in  language  and  style; 
it  is  artistic  but  not  in  the  extravagant  manner  of  the  later 
Kavya.  Its  matter  and  poetic  quality,  therefore,  are  more 
appealing  than  its  manner  and  artistic  effect.  This  is  certainly 
different  from  the  later  taste  and  standard  of  verse-making  ;  and 
it  is  not  surprising  that  with  the  exception  of  Kalidasa,  who  is 
nearer  his  time,  Agvaghosa  exercised  little  influence  on  later 
Sanskrit  poets,1  although  the  exception  itself  is  a  sure  indication 
of  the  essential  quality  of  his  literary  effort.  Despite  their 
religious  zeal,  the  literary  works  of  Asvaghosa  could  not  have 
been  approved  whole-heartedly  also  by  the  learned  monks  for  his 
freedom  of  views  and  leaning  towards  Brahmanical  learning. 

1    The  only  quotation  from   ASveghosa  in   Alarpkara   literature  occur?  in 

nw5i  td.  Qaekwad's   0.  8.,  p.    18   (**Buddha>c.  viii.  25),    For  other 
see  Johnston,  op.  cit.,  pp.  Ixxix-lxxx,  abd  F.  W.  Thomas*  Kts,  intrpd.,  p.  29. 


With  the  Buddhist  writers  of  the  Kavya,  on  the  other  hand, 
A^vaghosa  was  deservedly  popular ;  and  some  of  their  works  were 
modelled  so  closely  on  those  of  A^vaghosa  that  they  were 
indiscriminately  assigned  to  him  in  later  times,  with  the  result 
that  the  authors  themselves  came  to  be  identified  with  him.1 

Of  the  successors  of  Asvaghosa,  who  are  to  be  taken  into 
account,  not  because  they  were  Buddhists  but  because  their 
works  possess  a  wider  literary  appeal,  we  have  already  spoken  of 
Kumaralata,  one  of  whose  works  is  ascribed  by  the  Chinese  tradi- 
tion to  Asvaghosa  himself.  Some  of  the  poems  2  of  Matrceta 
have  likewise  .been  attributed  to  A£vagho»sa  by  the  Tibetan 
tradition,  one  of  whose  famous  chroniclers,  Taranatba  being  of 
opinion  that  Matrceta  is  another  name  for  Asvaghosa !  Of  the 
twelve  works  ascribed  to  Matrceta  in  Tibetan  and  one  in  Chinese, 
most  of  which  are  in  the  nature  of  Stotras  and  some  belonging 
distinctly  to  Mahayana,  only  fragments  of  $atapanca£atka-stotra* 
and  Catuhhtaka-stotraf  or  panegyric  of  one  hundred  and  fifty 
and  four  hundred  stanzas  respectively,  are  recovered  in  Sanskrit. 
Botlr  these  works  are  simple  devotional  poems  in  Slokas.  T  hey  are 
praised  by  Yi-tsing,  to  whom  Matrceta  is  already  a  famous  poet, 
and  who  himself  is  said  to  have  translated  the  first  work  into 
Chinese  ;  but  they  do  not  appear  to  possess  much  literary  merit. 
That  Matrceta,  in  spite  of  his  name  occurring  distinctly  in 
Yi-tsing  and  in  the  inscriptions,  was  confused  with  Asvaghosa, 
may  have  been  due  to  the  fact  that  he  belonged  to  the  same  school 
and  was  probably  a  contemporary.  A  Tibetan  version  of  another 

1  Concerning  the  identifications,   see   P.   W.  Thomas  in   Album   Kern,  Leiden   1903, 
pp.  405-08  and  IAt  1903,  pp  345-60;   also  see  ERE,  VIII  (1915),  p.  495f. 

2  For  a  list  of  the  works  see  F.  W,  Thomas,  Kvs,  introd.,  pp.  26-28. 

3  Fragments  published  by  S.   Le*vi  in  JA,  XVI,  1910,  pp.  438-56  and  L.  de  la  Valtee 
Pousain  in  JRAS,  1911,  pp.  769-77.  Siegiing  is  reported  to  have  reconstructed  about  two-thirds 
of  the  Sanskrit  text;  see  Winternitz,  H/L,  II,  p.  271  note.    Both  these  works  exist  in  Tibetan 
and  Chinese. 

4  The  work  is  called  Varnan&rha-varnana  in  the  Tibetan    version   and   Central  Asian 
fragments,    For  a  translation  of  this  text  from  Tibetan,  see  F,  W.  Thomas  in  I A  f  XXVIV, 
1905f  pp.  145463. 


work,  called  Maharaja-kanika-lekha,  in  eighty-five  stanzas, 
ascribed  to  Matrcitra,  has  been  translated  into  English  by  P.  W. 
Thomas,1  who  is  probably  right  in  thinking  that  Matrcitra  is 
identical  with  Matrceta,  and  that  king  Kanika  'of  the  Kusa 
dynasty  addressed  in  this  epistle  of  religious  admonition  is  no 
other  than  the  Kusana  king  Kaniska.2 

Of  greater  interest  than  the  rather  meagre  works  of 
Matrceta  is  the  Jataka-mala*  of  Arya  Sura,  which  consists  of 
a  free  but  elegant  Sanskrit  rendering,  in  prose  and  verse,  of 
thirty-four4  selected  legends  from  the  Pali  Jdtakas  and  the 
^Gariyii-pitaka,  illustrating  the  Paramitas  or  perfections  of  a 
Bodhisattva.  Although  sometimes  marked  by  exaggeration,  the 
tales  are  edifying.  They  were  apparently  composed  for  supply- 
ing ready  illustrations  to  religious  discourses,  but  the  interest  is 
more  than  religious.  The  work  reveals  a  close  study  of 
A^vaghosi's  manner,  and  is  inspired  by  the  same  idea  of  convey- 
ing in  polished,  but  not  too  highly  artificial,  diction  the  noble 
doctrine  of  universal  compassion  ;  and  it  is  not  surprising,  there- 
fore, that  the  author  should  be  identified  sometimes  with  Asva- 
ghosa.  The  attractive  form  in  which  the  old  stories  are  retold  in 
the  Kavya-style  slows  that  it  was  meant  for  a  wider  but  cultivated 
audience,  and  we  have  Yi-tsing's  testimony,  confirmed  by  the 
existence  of  Chinese  and  Tibetan  translations,  that  the  work  was 
at  one  time  popular  in  India  and  outside.  Arya  Sura's  date  is 
unknown,  but  as  another  work  of  his5  was  translated  into 

1  7/1,  XXII,  1903,  p.  345  f.     The  epistle  ia   supposed  to  be  Matrcitra's  reply  declining 
king  Kamka's  invitation  to  bis  court.    The  vogue  of  such  epistolary  exhortation  ia  borne  out 
by  Nagarjuna's  Suhfllekha  and  Candragomin's  Sisya-lehha. 

2  But  contra  8.  C.  Vidyabhugan  iu  JASB,  1910,  p.  477  f. 

3  Ed.  H.  Kern  in  Harvard  0.    S.,  1801;  trs.  J     S.   Speyer  in   Sacred  Books  of  the 
Buddhists,  Oxford  University  Press,  1895.    The  title  is  a  generic  term,  for  various  poets  have 
written  '  garlands  *  of  Jatakas. 

4  The  Chinese  version  contains  only  14  stories. 

For  a  list  of  other  works  ascribed  to   Xrya  Sura  by  Chinese  and  Tibetan  traditions, 
see  F.  W.  Thomas,  Kvs,  introd.,  p.  26  f. 


Chinese   in   434  AD.,    he   cannot   be   dated  later  than  the  4th 
century  A.D. 1 


Closely  connected  with  the  Jataka-mala,  which  is  also 
entitled  Bodhisattvavadana-mala,  are  the  works  belonging  to 
what  is  called  the  Avadana  literature  ;  for  the  Jataka  is  nothing 
more  than  an  Avadana  (Pali  Apadana)  or  tale  of  great  deed,  the 
hero  of  which  is  the  Bodhisattva  himself.  Their  matter  some- 
times coincides,  and  actual  Jataka  stories  are  contained  in  the 
Avadana  works.2  The  absorbing  theme  of  the  Avadanas  being 
the  illustration  of  the  fruit  of  man's  action,  they  have  a  moral 
end  in  view,  but  the  rigour  of  the  Karman  doctrine  is  palliated 
by  a  frank  belief  in  the  efficacy  of  personal  devotion  to  the 
Buddha  or  his  followers.  The  tales  are  sometimes  put,  as  in  the 
Jataka,  in  the  form  of  narration  by  the  Buddha  himself,  of  a  past, 
present  or  future  incident ;  and  moral  exhortations,  miracles  and 
exaggerations  come  in  as  a  matter  of  course.  As  literary  produc- 
tions they  are  hardly  commendable,  but  their  historical  interest 
is  considerable  as  affording  illustration  of  a  peculiar  type  of 
story-telling  in  Sanskrit. 

The  oldest  of  these  collections  is  perhaps  the  Avadana- 
tataka,*  which  is  well  known  from  some  of  its  interesting 
narratives,  but  its  literary  merit  is  not  high.  The  tales  are 
arranged  schematically,  but  not  on  a  well  conceived  plan,1  into 

1  We  do  not  take  here   into  account  the  works  of  other  and  later  Buddhist  writeis, 
such   as  the  Catuh-tatalta   of  Sryadeya,  the    Suhrllekha  of  Nagarjuna,  the  Sisya-lekha  and 
Lokananda-nataka  of  Candragoroin,  or  the  Bodhicaryavat&ra  of  Santideva,  for  they  contri- 
bute more  to  doctrine  or  philosophy  than  to  literature. 

2  See   Serge   d'Oldenberg  in    JRAS,   1898,  p.  304;  and  for  Avadaoa  literature  in 
general,  see  L.  Feer's   series  of   articles  in  JA  between  1578  and  1884,  and  introd.  to  his 
translation  of  the  Avadana-tataka. 

3  Ed.    J.    8.  Speyer,  BibJ.  Buddh.,  St.  Petersburg   1902-09;   trs.    into    French  by 
L.  Peer  in  Ann  ale  9  du  Must*  Guimet,  Paris  1891.    An  earlier  but  lost  Asok&vadana  was 
composed,  according  to  Przyluski,  by  a  Mathurft  monk  about  two  centuries  before  Ktniska. 



ten  decades,  each  dealing  with  a  certain,  subject,  and  are  told 
with  set  formulas,  phrases  and  situations.  The  first  four  decades 
deal  with  stories  of  pious  deeds  by  which  one  can  become  a 
Buddha,  and  include  prophecies  of  the  advent  of  the  Buddhas  ; 
while  the  fifth,  speaking  of  the  world  of  souls  in  torments, 
narrates  the  causes  of  their  suffering  with  a  tale  and  a  lesson  in 
morality.  The  next  decade  relates  stories  of  men  and  animals 


reborn  as  gods,  while  the  last  four  decades  are  concerned  with 
deeds  which  qualify  persons  to  become  Arhats.  The  legends 
are  often  prolix,  and  there  is  more  of  didactic  than  literary 
motive  in  the  narration.  The  date  of  the  work  is  uncertain,  but 
while  the  mention  of  the  Dlnara  as  a  current  coin  (Roman 
Denarius)  is  supposed  to  indicate  100  A.D.  as  the  upper  limit, 
the  lower  limit  is  supplied  more  convincingly  by  its  translation 
into  Chinese  in  the  first  half  of  the  3rd  century. 

Hardly  more  interesting  from  the  literary  point  of  view  is 
the  Divyavadana,1  the  date  of  which  is  also  uncertain,  but 
which,  making  extensive  use  of  Kumaralata's  work,  cannot  be 
earlier  than  the  1st  century  A.D.  It  is  substantially  a  Hinayfma 
text,  but  Mahayana  material  has  been  traced  in  it.  Being 
probably  a  compilation  of  polygenotis  origin,  extending  over 
different  periods  of  time,  its  matter  and  manner  are  unequal. 
The  prose  is  frequently  interrupted  by  Gathas  and  pieces  of 
ornate  stanzas,  but  this  is  a  feature  which  is  shown  by  other 
works  of  this  type.  The  language  is  reasonably  correct  and 
simple  ;  but  debased  Sanskrit,  marked  by  Prakritisms,  is  not 
absent,  and  the  diction  is  sometimes  laboured  and  ornamental. 
We  have  here  some  really  interesting  and  valuable  narratives, 
specially  the  cycle  of  A^oka  legends,  but  they  are  scarcely  well 
told  ;  the  arrangement  is  haphazard  and  chaotic  ;  and  the  work 
as  a  whole  possesses  little  literary  distinction.  2 

1  Ed.  B.  B.  Cowell  and  R.  A.  NeifiT  Cambridge  1886.  Almost  all  the  stories  Lave 
been  traced  to  other  works. 

1  For  other  collections  of  unpublished  Avadftnts,  see-  Speyer  and  Peer,  in  the  work* 
aitcd,  tnd  Winternitz,  H/L,  II,  pp.  290-92, 

tAJ.K   AND   FABtK  83 

To  the  first  century  of  the  Christian  era  probably  nlso 
belongs  some  parts  of  the  Mahavastu,1  the  '  Book  of  Great 
Events,'  even  if  its  substantial  nucleus  probably  took  shape  in 
an  earlier  period.  Although  its  subject  is  Vinaya,  it  contains, 
besides  the  life-story  of  the  Buddha,  some  narratives  of  the 
Jataka  and  Avadana  type  ;  but  in  its  jumbling  of  confused  and 
disconnected  matter  and  for  its  hardly  attractive  style,  it  has  small 
literary,  compared  with  its  historical,  interest.  The  same  remark 
applies  more  or  less  to  the  Lalita-vistara,2  the  detailed  account 
of  the  '  sport  '  of  the  Buddha,  the  date  of  which  is  unknown 
and  origin  diverse.  Whatever  may  be  its  value  as  a  biography 
of  the  Buddha,  its  style  is  not  unlike  that  of  the  Puranas.  The 
narrative  in 'simple  but  undistinguished  Sanskrit  prose  is  often 
interrupted  by  long  metrical  passages  in  mixed  Sanskrit,  and 
its  literary  pretensions  are  not  of  a  high  order. 


The  Buddhist  anecdotal  literature  perhaps  reflects  an  aspect 
of  the  literary,  us  well  as  popular,  taste  of  the  time,  which  liked 
the  telling  of  tales  in  a  simple  and  unadorned,  but  distinctly 
elegant,  manner ;  for  the  origin  of  the  Sanskrit  Pancatanlra  and 
the  Prakrit  Brhatkatha,  which  represent  story-telling  from 
another  point  of  view,  is  perhaps  synchronous,  although 
the  various  extant  versions  of  the  two  works  belong  to  a  much 
later  period.  The  Avadana,  the  didactic  beast-fable  and  the 
popular  tale  are  indeed  not  synonymous.  While  the  Avadana, 
closely  related  to  the  Jataka,  is  clearly  distinguishable  as  a 
Buddhist  gest,  which  has  a  definite  religious  significance,  the 
other  two  species  are  purely  secular  in  object  and  character. 
The  method  of  story-telling  is  also  different ;  for  in  the  Jataka 
or  Avadana,  we  have  ..generally  the  application  of  a  past  legend 

1  Ed.  E.  Smart,  8  vols,  Paris  1882-97,  \vitb  detailed  summary  of  contents  and  Dotes. 

2  Ed.     Rajendralal  Mitra,  Bibl.  lad,,  Calcutta  1877 ;  English  Irs.  by  same  (up  to  cb, 
xv),  Bibl.  Ind.   1881-86;   re-edited   by  8.  Lefmunn,  Halle  1902, 1S08;  complete  French  trs 

by  P.  B.  Fouoa-u  i  \  Annales  da  Muste   Guimef,  Paris  1884,  1892. 


to  a  tale  of  to-day.  In  the  Jataka  the  Bodhisattva  tells  a  tale 
of  his  past  experience,  but  it  is  not  narrated  in  the  first  person ; 
the  device  of  first-hand  narrative,  as  well  as  of  enclosing  a  tale^ 
is  a  feature  which  characterises  the  classical  method.  The 
Sanskrit  poetic  theory  ignores  the  Jataka  and  Avadana,  presum- 
ably because  they  have  a  religious  objective  and  seldom  rises 
to  the  level  of  art,  but  it  does  not  also  clearly  define  and  discri- 
minate between  the  fable  and  the  tale.  The  elaborate  attempt 
to  distinguish  between  the  Katha  and  the  Akhyayika,1  as  the 
invented  story  and  the  traditional  legend  respectively,  is  more 
or  less  academic,  and  has  hardly  any  application  to  the  present 
case.  Some  of  the  stories  of  the  Pancatantra  are  indeed  called 
Kathas,  but  one  of  the  versions  of  the  entire  work  is  styled 
Tantrakhyayika,  while  Guijadhya's  work  is  designated  as  the 
Great  Katha.  Possibly  no  fine  distinction  is  meant,  and  the 
terms  Katha  aud  Akhyayika  are  employed  here  in  the  general 
sense  of  a  story.  A  rigid  differentiation,  however,  cannot 
perhaps  be  made  in  practice  between  the  fable  aftd  the  tale ; 
for  the  different  elements  in  each  are  not  entirely  excluded  in 
the  other,  nor  isolated.  The  beast-fable,  as  typified  by  the 
PaHcatantra^  is  riot  seldom  enriched  by  folk-tale  and  spicy  stories 
of  human  adventure,  while  the  tale,  as  represented  by  the 
Brhatkathd^  sometimes  becomes  complex  by  absorbing  some  of 
the  elements  of  the  fable  and  its  didactic  motive.  Both  these 
types^  again^  should  be  distinguished  from  the  prose  romance,  the 
so-called  Katha  and  Akhyayika^  such  as  the  Harsa-carita  and  the 
Kadambarl,  in  which  all  the  graces  ard  refinements  of  the  Kavya 
are  transferred  from  verse  to  prose,  either  to  create  an  exuberantly 
fanciful  story  or  to  vivify  and  transform  a  legend  or  folk-tale. 

The  currency  of  tales  and  fables  of  all  kinds  may  be  pre- 
sumed from  remote  antiquity,  but  they  were  perhaps  not  used 
for  a  definite  purpose^  nor  reduced  to  a  literary  form,  until 

1  See  S.  K.  De,  The  Katba  and  the  Akhyayika  in  Classical  Sanskrit  in  BSOS,  III, 
p.  307f.-—  Dandin  tf-28>  speaks  of  Xkhyana  as  a  general  species,  in  which  col  lectio  us  of  tales 
like  the  Paiicatantra  were  probably  included, 

TALE   AND    FABLK  85 

at  a  comparatively  late  period.     The  ancestor  of  the  popular  tale 
may  have  been  sach  Vedic  Akhyanas  as  are  preserved,  for  instance, 
in  the  Rgvedic  dialogue-hymn  of    Pururavas   and   UrvasI,    or  in 
such  Brahmanic  legends  as  that  of   Sunah^epa ;   but   it  is  futile 
to  seek  the  origin  of  the  beast-fable  in  the  Rgvedic  hymn  of  frogs 
(vii.  103),  which  panegyrises   the   frogs   more   from    a   magical 
than  didactic   motive,   or  in  the  Upanisadic  parable  of  dogs  (Gh. 
Up.  i.  12),  which  represents  the  dogs  as  searching   out    a   leader 
to  howl  food  for  them,  but  which  may  have  been  either   a   satire 
or  an    allegory.     Nor   is  there  any  clear  recognition  of  the  fable 
in  the  Epics  as  a  distinct  literary  genre,   although  the   motifs   of 
the   clever   jackal,   the  naughty   cat   and   the  greedy  vulture  are 
employed  for  the  purpose  of   moral    instruction.     But   all   these, 
as   well   as  the    Jataka   device   of   illustrating   the     virtues    of 
Buddhism   by   means  of   beast-stories,1  may  have  suggested  the 
material  out  of  which   the   full-fledged   beast-fable  developed   in 
the   Pancatantra.     In   its  perfected  form,   it  differed  from  the 
simple   parable   or   the   mere   tale   about   beasts,  in  having   the 
latent   didactic   motive   clearly  and   deliberately  brought  out  and 
artistically  conveyed  in   a  definite   framework   and   a  connected 
grouping   of   clever   stories,   in   which  the  thoughts  and  deeds  of 
men   are   ascribed   to   animals.     There    is   nothing     simple    or 
popular  in  such  a   form ;  and  the  beast-fable  as   an   independent 
literary      creation       diverged     considerably      in     this     respect 
from  the  popular  tale,    which   is   free    from   didactic    presenta- 
tion   and    in  which    the    more    or  less   simple    ideas    of    the 
people    and    their    belief   in   myth    and  magic,  as  well  as  racy 
stories  of  human  life,   find   a  direct  expression.     In   the  case 
of  beast-fable,  again,  the  connexion  with  the  courts  of  princes  is 
clearer.     The  popular    tale,  no  doubt,  speaks  of  romantic   prince 
and  princess  of  a  fairy  land ;  but  the  framework  of  collection  of 
beast-fables  like  the  Paftcatantra,  which  is  delivered  in  the  form  of 

1    The  Barhut  Stupa  reliefs,  depicting  some  of  the  stories,  establish  the  currency  of  the 
beast-fable  at  least  in  the  2nd  Century  B.C. 


instruction  to  tender- minded  young  princes  in  statecraft  and 
practical  morality,  leaves  no  doubt  about  one  form  of  its  employ- 
ment. It  is  thus  closely  related  to  the  Niti-^astra  and  Artha- 
fiastra,1  but  it  is  not  directly  opposed  to  the  Dharma-^astra.  The 
fact  is  important ;  for  even  if  the  beast-fable  inculcates  political 
wisdom  or  expediency  in  the  practical  affairs  of  life,  rather  than 
a  strict  code  of  uprightness,  it  seldom  teaches  cleverness  at  the 
expense  of  morality.2 

a.     The  Pancatantra 

The  only  collection  of  beast-fable  and  the  solitary  surviving 
work  of  this  kind  in  Sanskrit  is  the  Pancatantra,  which  has  come 
down  to  us  in  various  forms  ;  but  it  is  a  work  which  has  perhaps 
a  more  interesting  history  than  any  in  world-literature.3  There 
can  be  little  doubt  that4  from  the  very  beginning  it  had  a 
deliberate  literary  form.  Each  of  its  five  parts,  dealing  respec- 
tively with  the  themes  of  separation  of  friends  (Mitra-bheda), 
winning  of  friends  (Mitra-prapti),  war  and  peace  (Samdhi- 
vigraha),  loss  of  one's  gains  (Labdha-nasa)  and  hasty  action 
(Apariksita-karitva),  is  a  narrative  unit  in  itself ;  but  all  together 
they  form  a  perfect  whole  fitted  into  the  frame  of  the  introduction. 

1  No  direct  influence  of  Kaulilya's  Artha-xastra  can  be  traced  in  the ra. 

2  F.  Edgerton  in  JAOS,  XL,  p.  '271  f. 

3  J.    Hertel    (Das    Paftcatantra,    seine    Geschichie    und    seine    Verbreitung,    Leipzig 
and    Berlin,   1914,    Index,    p.    451  T.)    records    over   200    different    versions    of  the  work 
known    to    exist      in     more     than   50  languages   (three-fourths    of  the    languages  befn? 
extra-Indian)    and    spreading    over    a    region    extending  from  Java    to    Iceland.      For    a 
brief  re"sum6  of   this  history,   as   well    as   for   a   brief   summary   of  the  work,  see  Winter- 
nitz,  GIL,  III,  pp.  294-311 ;  Keith,  HSL,  pp.  248  f,  357  f.— The  question  whether  the  indivi- 
dual tales   or  the  Indian  fable  itself  as  a  species,  were  borrowed,  in  their  origin,  from  Greece 
is  much  complicated.     Chronology  is  in  favour  of  the  priority  of  Greece,  but   the    suggestion 
that  India  consciously  borrowed  from  Greece  is  not  proved.     Some  points  of    similarity   may 
be  admitted,  but  they  may  occur  without  borrowing  on   either  side    At  any  rate,  if  reciprocal 
influences  and  exchanges  occurred,  India  seems  to  have  given  more  than   it    took.    Benfey's 
position  thnt.  the  tale  is  entirely  Indian,  while  the  fable  came  from  Greece,    need  not    be    dis- 
cussed, for  i'olklorists  to-day  no  longer  seek  to  find  the   bhthplaceof  all   tales  and    fublrn   in 
any  one  country. 


The  stories  are  told,  as  in  the  case  of  the  popular  tale,  in 
simple  but  elegant  prose,  and  there  is  no  attempt  at  descriptive 
or  sentimental  excursions  or  elaborate  stylistic  effects.  The  com- 
bining of  a  number  of  fables  is  also  a  characteristic  which  it 
shares  with  the  popular  tale,  but  they  arc  not  merely  emboxed ; 
there  is,  in  the  weaving  of  disjointed  stories,  considerable  skill  in 
achieving  unity  and  completeness  of  effect.  The  insertion  of  a 
number  of  general  gnomic  stanzas  in  the  prose  narrative  is  a 
feature  which  is  dictated  by  its  didactic  motive ;  but  the  tradition 
is  current  from  the  time  of  the  Brahmanas  and  the  Jatakas. 
More  interesting  and  novel,  if  not  altogether  original,  is  the  device 
of  conveniently  summing  up  the  moral  of  the  various  stories  in 
pointed  memorial  stanzas,  which  are  not  general  maxims  but- 
special  labels  to  distinguish  the  points  of  individual  fables.  The 
suggestion1  of  a  hypothetical  prose-poetic  Vedic  Akhyana,  in 
which  the  verse  remained  fixed  but  the  prose  mysteriously  dropped 
out,  is  not  applicable  to  the  case  of  the  blend  of  prose  and  verse 
in  the  fable  literature  ;  for  the  prose  here  can  never  drop  out,  and 
the  essential  nature  of  the  stanzas  is  gnomic  or  recapitulatory, 
and  not  dramatic  or  interlocutory.  There  must  have  existed  a 
great  deal  of  floating  gnomic  literature  in  Sanskrit  since  the  time 
of  the  Brahmanas,  which  might  have  been  utilised  for  these 
passages  of  didactic  wisdom. 

The  Paflcatantra,  however,  is  not  a  single  text,  but  a 
sequence  of  texts  ;  it  exists  in  more  versions  than  one,  worked 
out  at  different  times  and  places,  but  all  diverging  from  a  single 
original  text.  The  original,2  which  must  have  existed  long  before 
570  A.D.  when  the  Pahlavi  version  was  made,  is  now  lost ;  but 
neither  its  date  nor  its  title  nor  provenance,  is  known  with 

1  H.  OJdeuberg  in  ZDMG,  XXXVII,  p.  54  f ;  XXXIX,  p.  52  f ;  also- in  his  Zur  Geschichte 
d.  altindischen  Prosa,  Berlin    1917,  p.  53  f  and  Lit.  d.    alien  Indien,   cited   above,  pp  44  f 
125  f,  ]53f.  ' 

2  The    idea    of    a    Prakrit   original  is  discredited  both  by  Hertel  and  Edgerton.    The 
literature  on  the  Paflcatantra  is  vast  and  scattered,  but  the  results  of  the  various  studies  will 
be  found  summarised  in  the  works,  cited  below,  of  these  two  scholars. 


certainty.  The  character  and  extent  of  the  transformation,  to 
which  the  work  was  subjected  in  course  of  time,  make  the 
problem  of  reconstruction  one  of  great  intricacy,  but  the 
labours  of  Hertel1  and  Edgerton2  have  succeeded  in  a  great 
measure  in  going  back  to  the  primary  Paficatantra  by  a  close  and 
detailed  examination  of  the  various  existing  versions.  That  it 
originally  contained  five  books  with  a  brief  introduction  and  was 
called  Paftcatantra,  is  now  made  fairly  certain,  but  there  is  a  con- 
siderable discussion  of  the  meaning  of  the  word  Tantra.  It  may 
denote  nothing  more  than  a  book  or  its  subject-matter,  but  since 
it  occurs  in  the  title  Tantrahhyayika  of  one  of  the  versions,3  it 
may  indicate  a  text  of  polity  as  an  art.  There  is  no  evidence 
at  all  of  authorship  ;  for  the  name  Visnusarman,  applied  in  the 
introduction  to  the  wise  Brahman  who  instructs,  with  these 
stories,  the  ignorant  sons  of  king  Amarasakti  of  Mahilaropya  in 
Deccan,  is  obviously  as  fictitious  as  the  names  of  the  king  and 
the  place.  Hertel  thinks  that  the  work  was  composed  in 
Kashmir,  but  his  arguments  are  inadequate  ;  while  nothing  can 
be  confidently  inferred  from  the  mention  of  Gauda  or  Bsyamuka 
or  of  well  known  places  of  pilgrimage  like  Puskara,  Varanasi, 
Prayaga  and  Garigadvara. 

The  various  important  recensions  of  the  Pancatantra  have 
been  classified  into  four  main  groups,4  which  represent  diversity 
of  tradition,  but  all  of  which  emanate  from  the  lost  original. 
The  first  is  the  lost  Pahlavi  version,6  from  which  were  derived 

1  Das  Paftcatantra,  cited  above,  as  well  as  works  and  editions  cited  below. 
*  The  Pancatantra  Reconstructed t  Text,  Critical  Apparatus,  Introduction  and  Translation, 
2  vols.,  American  Orient.  Soc.,  New  Haven,  Conn.,  1924, 

3  Jacobi,  however,  would  translate  it  apparently  as  a  collection  of  akhyayika  in  tantras, 
'die  in  bucher  eingeteilte  Erzahlungssammlung.'    See  F.  W.  Thomas  in  JRAS,  1910,  p.  1347. 

4  Hertel,  however,   believes  ia   two  versions  of  one  Kashrnirian  recension  only  as  the 
archetype  of  the  other  three  recensions,  namely,  the   Tantr&khyayika    and  what  be  calls 
'E*. — For  a  abort  genealogical  table,  setting  forth  the  relationship  of  tfce-  four  main  recensions 
or  groups,  see  Edgerton,  op.  cit.t  II,  p.  48,  and  for  a  full  and  detailed  table  cf  all  known 
versions  see  Penzer's  Ocean  of  Story',  Vol.  V,  p.  242  (also  by  Edgerton). 

6  Made    by     he    physician    Burzoe  under  the   patronage    of    Chosroes   Anu0hTrwan 
(581-79  A.D.)  under*  he  title  Karataka  and  Darnanaka. 


the  old  Syriac1  and  Arabic2  versions ;  and  it  was  through  this 
source  that  the  Paficatantra,  in  a  somewhat  modified  form,  was 
introduced  into  the  fable  literature  of  Europe.  The  second 
is  a  lost  North-western  recension,  from  which  the  text  was 
incorporated  into  the  two  North-western  (Kashmirian)  Sanskrit 
versions  of  Gunadhya's  Brhatkatha,  made  respectively  by 
Ksemendra  and  Somadeva  (llth  century  A.D.).8  The  third  is 
the  common  lost  source  of  the  Kashmirian  version,  entitled 
Tantrakhyayika,4  and  of  the  two  Jaina  versions,  namely,  the 
Simplicior  Text,  well  known  from  Biihler  and  Kielhorn's  not 
very  critical  edition,6  and  the  much  amplified  Ornatior  Text, 
called  Paficakhyana,  of  Purnabhadra  (1199  A.D.).6  The  fourth 
is  similarly  the  common  lost  source  of  the  Southern  Paficatantra,7 

1  Made  by  Bud,  a  Persian  Christian,  about  570  A.D.  under  the  title  Kalilag  wa 
Damnag.  Ed  Schulthess,  Berlin  1911. 

1  Made  by  'Abdullah  Ibnu'l-Muquffa  about  750  A.D.  under  the  style  Kallla  wa 
Dimna.  Ed.  L  Cheikbo,  2nd  Ed.,  Beyrouth  1923. 

•*  Brhatkatha-maftjari  xvi.  '255  f ;  Hatha-sarii-sagaTa  lx-!xiv.  Leo  von  Mankowski  baa 
edited,  with  trans  etc.,  (from  only  one  imperfect  MS),  Kseu.endra'a  version  separately  in  Der 
Auszug  aus  dem  Paftcatanlra  m  Kfemendras  Brhatkathamafljari,  Leipzig  1892.  Lacote, 
Hertel  and  Edgerton  make  it  probable  that  the  original  Bfhatkatha  of  Gunadbya  did  not 
contain  the  Paflcatanlra. — S^madeva's  \ersion  of  the  Paficatantra  (accordii  g  to  Eruenau'e 
computation  in  JAOS,  LI II,  1^33,  p.  125)  contains  539  Slokas,  while  Ksemendra's  in 
Mankowtki's  edition  ,  haa  806  ;  but  deducting  the  stories  not  found  in  Somadeva,  Ksemendra's 
total  would  be  about  270  only. 

4  Ed.  J.  Hertel,  Berlin  1910,  containing   two    sub-versions ;    also    ed.    J.    Hertel    in 
Harvard  0.  8.,  Cambridge  Mass.  1915;  tra  J.  Hertel,  2  vols.,  Leipzig  and  Berlin  1909. 

5  Bombay  Skt.   Ser.,  1868-69 ;  also  ed.  L.  Kosengarten  Bonn    3848 ;  ed.   K.  P.  Parab, 
NSP,  Bombay  1896  (revised  Parab  and  V.  L.  Panshikar  1912).    J.   Hertel,   Uber  die   Jaina 
Recensionen  des  Paficatantra   in  BSGW,  LIV,  1902,  pp.  23-134,  gives  selections  of  text  and 

6  Ed  J.  Hertel,  Harvard  Orient  Ser,,  Cambridge  Mass.,  1908-12;  trs    into  German  by 
Schmidt,   Leipzig  1901;  into   English   by    A.W.Ryder,  Chicago  1925.— Purnabhadra  uses 
both  the  Tantrakhyayika  and  the  Simplicior  text. 

7  Ed.  J.  Hertel  (Text  of  recension  0,  with  variants   from   recension  a\  Leipzig    1906; 
Text   of    recension    o,    ed.   Heinrich   Blatt,  Leipgig  1930.    See  also  J.  Hertel,  Ober  einen 
siidlicl.en  textus  amplior  des   Paficatantra  in   ZDMG,   1906-07   (containing   translation  of 
text).    Of  the  Nepalese  version.  Bk.  i-iii  are  included  in  Hertel's  ed.  mentioned  above,  while 
Bk.  iy-v  in  his.  ed.  of  Tantrakhyayikd,  introd.,  p.  xxvii.    Selections  from  the  Nepalese  version 
published  with  trs.   by  Bendali  in  JRAS,  1888,  pp.  466-501.     See  Herte.1  in  ZDM 0,  LXIV, 
1910,  p.  58  f  and  Dos  Paftcatantra,  pp.  37  f ,  818  f, 

J2— 1848B 


the  Nepalese  version  and  the  Bengali  Hitopadega.1  A  detailed 
study  of  the  character  and  interrelation  of  the  various  recensions 
and  versions  is  not  possible  here,  but  some  of  their  general 
characteristics  may  be  briefly  noted.  The  Tantrakhyayika  is 
perhaps  the  oldest  Sanskrit  version,  and  preserves  the  original 
text  better  and  more  extensively  than  any  other  version.  But 
none  of  the  recensions—not  even  the  Tantrakhyayika,  the  claims 
of  which  have  been  much  exaggerated  by  Hertel — represents  in 
its  entirety  the  primitive  text.  The  North-western  original  of 
Ksemendra  and  Somadeva  must  have  been  a  version  made  much 
later  in  Kashmir.  Ksemendra's  fairly  faithful,  but  dry,  abstract 
suffers  from  its  brevity,  but  Somadeva's  narrative,  inspite  of  a 
few  omissions  and  some  interruption  of  sequence  by  the  introduc- 
tion of  extraneous  tales,  is  normally  clear  and  attractive.  There 
is  a  great  deal  of  reshuffling  of  stories,  as  well  as  intrusion  of 
additional  matter,  in  both  the  Simplicior  and  Ornatior  Texts,  the 
former  adding  seven  and  the  latter  twenty-one  new  stories.  The 
Southern  recension  exists  in  several  sub-versions  ;  it  is  much 
abbreviated,  but  nothing  essential  appears  to  have  been  omitted, 
and  only  one  complete  story  (The  Shepherdess  and  her  Lovers)  is 
added.  The  Hitopadeta*  which  has  currency  mostly  in  Bengal, 
is  practically  an  independent  work,  containing  only  four  and  not 
five  books,  by  one  Narayana,  whose  patron  was  Dhavalacandra 
and  who  must  have  lived  before  1373  A.D.,  which  is  the  date 
of  one  of  the  manuscripts  of  the  work.  The  compiler  amplifies 
the  stories  derived  in  the  main  from  the  Paficatantra,  by  drawing 
upon  an  unknown  source,  considerably  omits,  alters,  remodels 

1  Repeatedly  printed  in  India,  but  not  yet  critically  edited.    The  better  known  ed. 
is  by  P.  Peterson,  Bomb.  Skt.  Ser.,  1887;  also  Hitopadetia  nach  NepaUschen  Handfchrift.  ed. 
H.   Blatt,  Berlin  1980  (Roman  characters).     The  earliest  ed.  is  that  of  A.  Hamilton,  London 
1810,  and  the  earliest  trs.  by  C.  Wilkins,  London,  1787. 

2  See  J.  Hertel,    fiber    Text   und   Verfasser    des   Hitcpade&a    (Bias.)    Leipzig  1897, 
p.  37,  and  Das  Paficatantra,  p.  38  f.    In   spite  of  omissions  and  alteration,  the  Hitopadeta 
preserve!  over  half  the  entire  sub-stories  of  the  Paficatantra,  and  follows  closely  the  archetype 
which  it  shares  with  the  Southern  recension, 


the  sequence  of  books  and  stories,  and  inserts  large  selections  of 
didactic  matter  from  Kamandaklya  NUi-sara. 

Although  Hertel  is  right  in  believing  that  the  Pancatantra 
was  originally  conceived  as  a  work  for  teaching  political  wisdom^ 
yet  the  fact  should  not  make  us  forget  that  it  is  also  essentially 
a  story-book,  in  which  the  story-teller  and  the  political  teacher 
are  unified,  most  often  successfully,  in  one  personality.  There 
are  instances  where  the  professed  practical  object  intrudes  itself, 
and  tedious  exposition  of  polity  prevails  over  simple  and  vivid 
narration  ;  but  these  instances  are  happily  not  too  numerous, 
and  the  character  of  the  work  as  a  political  text-book  is  never 
glaring.  Inequalities  doubtless  appear  in  the  stories  existing  in 
the  different  versions,  but  most  of  them  being  secondary,  it  can 
be  said  without  exaggeration  that  the  stories,  free  from  descrip- 
tive and  ornamental  digressions,  are  generally  very  well  and 
amusingly  told.  They  show  the  author  as  a  master  of  narrative, 
as  well  us  a  perfect  man  of  the  world,  never  departing  from  an 
attitude  of  detached  observation  and  often  possessed  of  a  con- 
siderable fund  of  wit  and  humour  veiled  under  his  pedagogic 
seriousness.  If  he  makes  his  animals  talk,  he  makes  them  talk 
well  and  the  frankly  fictitious  disguise  of  the  fabliau  eminently 
suits  his  wise  and  amusing  manner.  With  a  few  exceptions,  the 
individual  stories  are  cleverly  fitted  together  into  a  complex  but 
well  planned  form.  The  language  is  elegantly  simple,  and 
the  author  shows  taste  and  judgment  in  never  saying  a  word 
too  much,  except  for  a  touch  of  the  mock-heroic,  and 
in  realising  that  over-elaboration  is  out  of  place.  The  gnomic 
stanzas,  if  not  the  title- verses,  are  not  always  demanded  by  the 
narrative,  but  they  are  meant  to  give  sententious  summary  of 
wo:ldly  wisdom  and  impressive  utterance  to  very  ordinary,  but 
essential,  facts  of  life  and  conduct.  We  do  not  know  how 
far  these  stanzas  are  original,  for  some  of  them  occur  in  the 
Epics  and  elsewhere ;  but  they  are  generally  phrased  with 
epigrammatic  terseness,  and  form  an  interesting  feature, 
in  spite  of  the  tendency  to  over-accumulate  them.  It  is  not 


without  reason,  therefore,  that  the  work  enjoyed,  and  still  enjoys, 
such  unrivalled  popularity  as  a  great  story-book  in  so  many 
different  times  and  lands. 

b.     The  Brhatkathd  of  Gunadhya 

The  popular  tale  is  represented  by  a  number  of  works  in 
Sanskrit,  but  the  earliest  appears  to  have  been  the  Brhatkatha,  or 
'  the  Great  Story/  of  Gunadhya,  the  Prakrit  original  of  which  is 
lost,  but  which  is  now  known  from  three  comparatively  late 
Sanskrit  adaptations.  Its  exact  date  ]  cannot  be  determined,  but 
that  it  already  received  recognition  before  GOO  A.D.  is  clear  from 
the  references  to  its  importance  by  Bana  2  and  Subandhu3;  and 
there  is  nothing  to  show  that  it  cannot  be  placed  much  earlier. 
If  it  belongs  to  a  period  after  the  Christian  era,  it  is  not 
improbable  that  the  work  took  shape  at  about  the  same  time  as 
the  lost  original  of  the  Pancatantra ;  and  to  assign  it  to  the  fourth 
century  A.D.  would  not  be  an  unjust  conjecture. 4  The  recorded 
tradition  informs  us  that  the  original  Brhatkathd  was  composed 
in  Paisaci  Prakrit;  and  it  is  noteworthy  that  the  literary  form 
which  the  popular  tale  first  assumed  was  one  in  Prakrit.  Like 
the  Pancatantra,  the  work  of  Gunadhya  was  undoubtedly  a  new 
literary  creation,  but  the  medium  of  expression  perhaps  indicates 
a  difference  in  method  and  outlook. 

J    On  the  question  of  date  and  author,  see  J.  S.  Speyer,  Studies  about  KaihSsariisdgarfi 
Amsterdam  1908,  p.  44  f.    Biihler  in  his  Kashmir  Report  summarily  places  the  work  in  tin 
first  centnry   A.D.,   with   ttluch    F.  Lac6te  (Melanges  Ltvi,  p.  270)   appears  to  agree;  bu 
S.  Levi  (ThMtre  indien,  1801,  p.  817)  cautiously    adjusts   it  to  the  3rd  century.     See  Keith  in 
JRAS,  3909,  p.  145f.    Both   Dandin's  Dasa-kumdra-carita  and  Subandhu's  Vasavadattd  refer 
to  the  story  of  Naravahaoadatta. 

3    Har§a-caritat  Introductory  gt.  17. 

3  Ed.  F.  £.  Hall,  p.  110. 

4  The  alleged  Sanskrit  version  of  Durvinlta  of  the  6th   century  (R.   Narasimhacbar  in 
L4,LXII,  1913,  p.  204  and  JRAS,  1913,   p.   889  f;  Fleet  in  JRAS,  1911,  pp.  186  f)  and  the 
•upposed  Tamil  version  of  the  2nd  cf-ntury  A. I).  (S.  K.  Aiyungar  in  JRAS,  1906,  p.  689  f ;  a>  d 
Ancient  India,  London  1911,  pp.  328,  337}  are  too  doubtful  to  be  of  any  use  ror   chronological 
purposes.    See  Lacote,  Euai  sur  Gunafyya  et  la  Brhatkatha,  Parin  1908,  p.  198  f. 


An  obviously  legendary  account  of  the  origin  of  the  work 
and  the  personality  of  the  author  is  given,  with  some  variations, 
in  the  introductory  account  of  the  two  Kashmirian  Sanskrit 
versions  and  in  the  apocryphal  Nepala-mahatmya 1  of  a  pseudo- 
Puranic  character.  It  makes  Gunadhya  an  incarnation  of 
a  Gana  of  Siva,  who  under  a  curse  is  born  at  Pratisthana  on  the 
Godavarl  and  becomes  a  favourite  of  king  Satavahana  ;  but  the 
king  has  another  learned  favourite  in  Sarvavarman,  the  reputed 
author  of  the  Katantra  grammar.  Having  lost  a  rash  wager  with 
Sarvavarman,  with  regard  to  the  teaching  of  Sanskrit  to  the 
king,  who  had  been  put  to  shame  by  the  queen  for  his  ignorance 
of  the  language,  Gunadhya  abjures  the  use  of  Sanskrit 
and  society,  and  retires  to  the  wild  regions  of  the  Vindhya  hilts. 
There,  having  learnt  from  another  incarnated  Gana  of  Siva 
the  story  of  the  Brhatkatha,  originally  narrated  by  Siva  to 
ParvatI,  he  records  it  in  the  newly  picked  up  local  PaisacT 
dialect,  in  700,000  Slokas,  of  which  only  one-seventh  was 
saved  from  destruction  and  preserved  in  the  work  as  we  have  it ! 
The  Nepalese  version  of  the  legend,  however,  places  Ciunadhya's 
birth  at  Mathura  and  makes  king  Madana  of  Ujjayini  his 
patron;  it  knows  nothing  of  the  wager  but  makes  Gunadhya,  on 
being  vanquished  by  Sarvavarman,  write  the  story  in  PaisacI  for 
no  other  explicit  reason  than  the  advice  of  a  sage  named 
Pulastya.  The  legend  is  obviously  a  pious  Saiva  invention 
modified  in  different  ways  in  Kashmir  and  Nepal; 2  from  the 
reference  in  the  Har$a-carita,  one  may  inter  that  it  was  known 
in  some  form  to  Banabhatta  ;  but  the  value  of  biographical  and 
other  details  te  not  beyond  question,  if  Sarvavarman  is 
introduced,  Panini,  Vyadi  and  Vararuci-Katyayana  also  figure  in 
the  legend  as  contemporaries,  although  the  Nepalese  compiler 
does  not  appreciate  the  grammatical  interest,  nor'  the  use  of 

1  Given  in  Lacdte,  op.  ctt.,  Appendix,  p.  29]  f. 

2  It  is  as  a  saint  of  Saivism  that  Gunu<Jbya   figured  in  the    Nepalese  work,  as  well  as 
in  a  Cambodian  inscription  of  about  876  A.D.,  which  is  of  Saitite  inspiration  (S.  Le"vi  in  JA, 

94  lilbTOHY   Ot   SANSKRIT   LIT  UK  At  U  HE 

Prakrit.  The  association  with  Satavahana  recalls  one  of  the 
brilliant  periods  of  Prakrit  literature,  and  probably  suggests  that 
the  employment  of  Sanskrit  by  the  Ksatrapa  rulers  probably 
found  a  counter-movement  in  favour  of  the  patronage  of  Prakrit 
literature;  but  Satavahana  being  a  dynastic  name,  which  may 
denote  any  of  several  kings,  it  does  not  help  to  solve  the 
chronological  problem.3 

But  much  controversy  has  naturally  centred  round  the 
value  of  the  Gunadhya  legend  regarding  its  testimony  on  the 
form  of  the  lost  work  and  its  language.  The  legend  speaks  of 
Gunadhya's  work  being  written  in  Sloka  and  in  the  dialect  of 
the  wild  people  of  the  Vindhya  regions,  which  is  called  the 
dialect  of  the  Pi^acas  or  Paigacl.  Dandin,  in  his  Kavyadarga 
({.  88),  appears  to  know  the  legend  in  some  form,  and  states  that 
the  work  was  written  in  the  Bhuta-bhasa  ;  but  he  thinks  that 
it  was  a  type  of  the  prose  romance  known  as  Katha,  in  which, 
of  course,  verse  was  allowed  to  be  inserted.  The  three  existing 
Sanskrit  versions  are  all  metrical,  but  this  need  not  invalidate 
Dandin's  statement,  if  Dandin  can  be  presumed  to  have  possessed 
a  direct  knowledge  of  the  work  already  famous  in  his  time. 
More  inconclusive  is  the  evidence  regarding  the  nature  and 
location  of  the  dialect  in  which  the  work  was  composed.  In 
accordance  with  the  legend,  the  PaisacI  Prakrit  is  localised  2  as 
the  dialect  of  the  Vindhya  regions  lying  near  about  Ujjayini,  but  it 
is  also  maintained 3  that  it  was  a  North-western  Prakrit  of  Kekaya 
and  eastern  Gandhara,  which  is  regarded  as  the  ancestor  of  the 
group  of  Dardic  dialects  now  spoken  in  Kafirstan,  Swat  valley, 

1  On  the  alleged  Greek  influence  on  MunAclhya's  work,  see  Lacote,  op.  cit.f  pp.  284-86, 
who  argues  the  opposite  way  to  show  that  the  Greek  rommce  was  influenced  by  the  Indian. 
See  Keith,  HSL,  p.  866  f. 

*  Sten  Konow  in  ZDMG,  LXIV,  1910,  p.  95  f  and  JRAS,  1921>  p.  244  f;  Keith,  HSL, 
p.  269.  Bsjas*ekhara  (Kavya-rriimarpsa,  p.  51)  apparently  holds  the  same  view.  Sten  Konow's 
view,  in  brief,  is  that  the  Pais*aci  was  an  Indo- Aryan  language  spoken  by  Dravidians  in 
Central  India. 

3  G.  Grierson  iu  JRAS,  1905,  p.  285  f,  ZDMG,  LXVI,  1913,  pp.  49  f,  at  pp.  74-8C, 
JRAS,  1921,  p.  424  f,  as  well  as  ia  his  Linguistic  Survey,  1919,  Vol.  Ill,  pt.  2  and  in 
Hastings,  ERE,  under  Paigaca,  Vol.  X  (1918),  p.  43  f. 


Citral  and  adjacent  places.  The  difficulty  of  arriving  at  a  final 
conclusion  *  lies  in  the  fact  that  the  statements  of  fairly  late 
Prakrit  grammarians  about  Pai^acI  Prakrit,  as  well  as  the  doubtful 
fragments  cited  by  them  as  specimens,2  are  meagre  and  uncertain. 
It  is  also  not  safe  to  argue  back  from  the  character  and  location 
of  present-day  dialects  to  those  of  a  hypothetical  Prakrit.  The 
designation  Pai^acI  was  perhaps  meant  to  indicate  that  it  was  an 
inferior  and  barbarous  dialect,  and  the  sanction  of  a  vow  was 
required  for  its  employment ;  but  what  we  know  about  it 
from  Prakrit  grammarians  and'  other  sources  makes  it  probable 
that  it  was  an  artificial  form  of  speech  nearer  in  some  respects 
to  Sanskrit  than  the  average  Prakrit.  If  it  hardened  /  and  d 
alone,  it  is  a  characteristic  which  may  be  equally  applicable  to  a 
Vindhya  dialect  influenced  by  Dravidian  and  to  a  dialect  of  the 
North-west.  The  question,  therefore,  does  not  admit  of  an  easy 
solution,  although  greater  plausibility  may  be  attached  to  the 
linguistic  facts  adduced  from  the  Dardic  dialects. 

The  exact  content  and  bulk  of  the  original  Brliatkatha  cannot 
also  be  determined,  even  to  the  extent  to  which  we  can 
approximate  to  those  of  the  original  Pancatantra .  We  have  two 
main  sources  of  knowledge,  derived  from  Kashmir  and  Nepal 
respectively,  but  both  of  them  employ  a  different  medium  of 
expression,  and  are  neither  early  nor  absolutely  authentic. 
The  first  is  given  by  two  metrical  Sanskrit  adaptations  of 
Kashmir,  namely,  the  Brhatkatha-mafijar'i  *  '  the  Bouquet  of  Great 

1  Lacote,  op.  cit.t  p.  51  f.     Lac6te  believes  the  Pui^acT  to  be  based  upon  the  Indo-Aryan 
language  of  the  North-wee/,  but  spoken  by  non-Aryan  people.     He  suggests   a   via   media   by 
stating  that  Gunadhya  picked  up  the  idea  of  the  dialect  from  travellers   from   the  North-west;, 
I  ut  his  sphere  of  work  lay  around  Ujjayinll     Cf.  F.  W.  Thomas,  Foreword  to  Penzer's  cd.  of 
Ocean  of  Story,  Vol.  IV,  pp.  ix-x. 

2  Hemacandra's    Prakrit    Grammar,    ed.    Pischel,    iv.     303-24;   for  Markendieys ,  see 
Grierson   in  JRAS,  1918,   p.    391.    For  a  discussion  of  the   passages,   see  Lac6te,  op.  erf., 
p  201  f.    Vararuci  speaks  of  one  Pais'acI  dialect ;  Heujacandra    appears  to  distinguish   three 
varieties;  Mftrkan<jeya  increases  the  number  to  thirteen  1   Different  localities   are   mentioned, 
i>ut  one  locality  is  agreed  upon,  viz.,  Kekaya  or  N.  W.  Punjab. 

3  Ed.   Sivadatta  and   Parab,    NSP,  Bombay,  1901.     Parts  of  it  (introduction  and  first 
two  stories),  translated  with  the  Eoman  text,  by  S.  Le*vi  in  JA,  1885-86, 


Tale,'  of  the  polymath  Ksemendra,  and  the  Katha-sarit-sagara,* 
*  the  Ocean  of  Rivers  of  Tales/  of  Soraadeva,  the  latter  written 
between  1063  and  1082  A.D.  and  the  former  about  a  quarter  of  a 
century  earlier. 2  Like  Somndeva's  work,  that  of  Ksemendra  is 
divided  into  eighteen  Lambhakas,3  but  it  is  of  the  nature  of  a 
condensed  abstract,  industriously  and  perhaps  (as  his  other 
Mafijaris  show)  faithfully  compiled.  It  consists  of  about  7,5 "0 
31okas,  as  against  more  than  21,000  of  Somadeva's  work  ;  but 
Ksemendra  makes  up  for  the  brevity  and  dreariness  of  his 
narrative  by  a  number  of  elegant,  but  mannered,  descriptive  and 
erotic  passages.4  Somadeva,  on  the  other  hand,  is  not  anxious 
to  abridge ;  but  he  shows  considerable  restraint  in  avoiding 
useless  elaboration,  and  tells  his  stories  with  evident  zest  and  in 
a  clear  and  attractive  manner.  At  one  time  it  was  thought  that 
these  two  Kashmirian  versions  drew  directly  from  the  Prakrit 
original,  but  the  idea  has  now  been  discarded,  not  only  from  the 
comparative  evidence  of  their  contents,  but  also  in  view  of  the 
discovery  in  Nepal  in  1893  of  the  second  important  source, 
namely,  the  BrhatkatM-£loka-samgraha  of  Budhasvamin, 5  which 
is  also  in  Sloka,  but  unfortunately  incomplete.  Its  date  is  un- 
known, but  it  is  assigned,  mainly  on  the  probable  date  and 

1  Ed.    Durgaprasad  and  Parab,   NSP,  Bombay  1889  (reprinted   1903,   1915  etc.).    II. 
Brokhaus  edited  i-v  (with  trs.),  2  vols.  Leipzig  1813,  and  vi-viii,  ix-xviii  (text  only)  in  Abb   fiir 
die  Kunde  d.  Morgenlandes,  II  and  IV,  Leipzig  1862  and  18G6.    The  work  is  well  known  from 
its  Eng.  trs.  by  C.  H.  Tawney  under  the  title  Ocean  of  Story  in  Bibl.  Ind.,  Calcutta  1880-87, 
reprinted  with  notes  and  essays,  etc.,  by  N.  M.  Penzer  in  10  vols.,  London  1924-28. 

2  See  Biihler,  Uber    das   Zeitalter  des  katmirisclien  Didders  Somadeva,  Wien  1885. 
Somadeva   wrote  the  work  to  please  SilryamatT,  princess  of  Jalarpdbara,  wife  of  Ananta  and 
mother  of  Kalada.    Ksemendra  also  wrote  most  of  his  works  under  king  Kalas*a  of  Kashmir. 

5  The  division  d  es  not  seem  to  be  original,  being  missing  in  Budbosvamin's  version, 
which  has  Sarga  division.  The  sections  are  called  Gucchakas  *  clusters  '  in  Ksemendra,  and 
Tarangas  'billows  '  in  Soraadeva,  according  to  the  respective  titles  of  their  "works. 

*  On  these  descriptive  passages,  see  Speyer,  op.  ct£.,  p.  17  f.  Speyer  estimates  that 
Ksemendra 's  work  contains  7,561  gltkas,  Somadeva's  21,388. 

5  Ed.  F.  Lacdte,  with  trs,,  Paris  1908-29  (i-xxviii).  The  work  was  first  discovered 
by  Haraprasad  Sastri  in  Nepal,  but  its  importance  wag  not  realised  till  Lac6te  edited  the 
work  and  published  the  results  of  his  investigations.  The  MS  is  from  Nepal,  but  otherwise 
there  is  no  sign  of  the  Nepalese  origin  of  the  work. 


tradition  of  the  manuscript,  to  the  8th  or  9th  century  A.D. 
Although  this  work  is  a  fragment  of  28  Sargas  and  4,539  stanzas, 
and  also,  as  its  name  implies,  an  abbreviated  abstract,  its 
evidence  is  highly  important  regarding  the  existence  of  two 
distinct  traditions  of  the  text,  which  show  considerable  and 
remarkable  divergences.1 

Tbe  main  theme  of  both  the  recensions  appears  to  be  the 
adventures  of  Naravahanadatta,  son  of  the  gay  and  amorous 
Udayana,  famed  in  Sanskrit  literature,  and  bis  final  attainment 
of  Madanamanjuka  as  his  bride  and  the  land  of  the  Vidyadharas 
as  his  empire;  but  in  the  course  of  the  achievement,  he  visits 
many  lands  and  contracts  a  large  number  of  marriages  with 
beautiful  maidens  of  all  kinds  and  ranks.  A  vital  difference, 
however,  occurs  in  the  treatment  of  the  theme.  While  the 
Nepalese  recension  concentrates  upon  the  main  theme  and  gives 
a  simple  and  connected  narrative,  comparatively  free  from 
extraneous  matters,  the  Kashtnirian  recension  is  encumbered 
by  a  stupendous  mass  of  episodic  stories,  indiscriminately  accu- 
mulated and  remotely  connected,  regardless  of  the  constant 
break  and  obscuration  of  the  original  theme.  The  Nepalese 
recension,  for  instance,  ornits  the  introductory  Gunadhya 
legend,  which  occurs  in  the  Kashmirian,  and  plunges  at  once 
into  the  story  of  Gopala  and  Palaka  and  of  the  love  of  Gopala's  son 
for  Suratamanjarl,  connecting  it  with  the  story  of  Naravahana- 
datta, who  is  made  the  narrator  of  the  tale  of  his  twenty-six 
marriages.  The  Kashmirian  authors  are  apparently  aware  of  this 
beginning,  but  the  necessity  of  commencing  with  the  Gunadhya 
legend  and  making  Gunadhya  the  narrator  of  the  tale  makes  them 
shift  the  story  of -Gopfila,  Pfilaka  and  Suratamanjarl,  and  place  it, 
unconnectedly,  as  a  kind  of  appendix  at  the  end.  The  Nepalese 
recension  omits  also  the  unnecessary  tale  of  Udayana 's  winning  of 

1  See  Lac6te,  Essai  cited  above,  for  a  discussion  of  the  Kashmirian  versions,  pp.  61-145, 
the  Nepalese  version,  pp.  146-196,  comparison  of  the  two  versions,  pp.  207-18,  and  of  the 
original  Bfhatkatha,  pp.  1-59. 


PadmSvati,  and  does  not  think  it  desirable  to  provide  royal  ancestry 
for  the  courtesan  Kalingasena,  mother  of  Madanamanjuka,  in 
order  to  conceal  the  questionable  origin  of  the  heroine.  In  the 
Kashmirian  recension,  the  hero  Naravahanadatta  does  not  even 
pake  his  appearance  till  his  birth  in  Bk.  IV  (in  both  versions), 
but  the  narrative  of  the.  hero  is  interrupted  for  two  more  books 
by  the  stories  of  Saktivega  and  Suryaprabha,  who,  recognising 
in  the  infant  the  destined  emperor  of  the  Vidyadharas,  relate 
their  own  adventures  as  aspirants  to  the  same  rank.  In  this 
way,  the  main  theme  is  constantly  interrupted  by  a  vast  cycle 
of  legends,  although  Ksemendra  and  Somadeva  are  not  in  perfect 
agreement,  after  Bk.  IV,  regarding  the  sequence  and  arrangement 
of  the  extra  mass  of  material.  It  is  clear  that  both  the  Kash- 
mirian versions  do  not,  in  their  zeal  for  collection,  succeed  in 
producing  a  unified  or  well-constructed  work,  although  the 
narrative  of  Somadeva,  who  is  a  consummate  story-teller,  is 
marked,  in  spite  of  its  bulk,  by  greater  coherence  and  desire 
to  preserve,  however  strenuously,  the  effect  of  the  main  story. 
The  accretions,  for  example,  not  only  bring  in  entirely  irrelevant 
stones  of  Mrgankadatta  and  Muktaphalaketu,  of  expedition  to 
the  Camphor  Land  and  the  White  Island  for  the  winning  of 
Ratnaprabha  and  Alamkaravati  respectively,  but  also  incorporate 
the  Vikramaditya  cycle  of  legends  and  interpolate  versions  of 
the  entire  Paflcatantra  and  the  Vetala-pancavim£ati.  All  this, 
with  the  addition  of  countless  number  of  small  tales,  legends 
and  witty  stories,  would  justify  the  quaint,  but  appropriate, 
name  of  Somadeva' s  largest  collection  as  the  ocean  of  the  streams 
of  stories,  and  which  in  their  rich  mass  would  make  the  over- 
whelmed reader  exclaim  that  here  is  indeed  God's  plenty  ! 

How  far  these  episodes  and  legend-cycles  belonged  to  the 
original  Brhatkatha  cannot  be  precisely  determined,  but  it  is 
clear  that  much  of  them  is  remotely  and  sometimes  confusedly 
connected  with  the  main  theme,  and  is  entirely  missing  in  the 
Nepalese  recension.  It  is  true  that  Budhasvamin's  work  is 
speciallyc  styled  a  ompendium  (Samgraba)  and  that  his  omissions 


may  have  been  dictated  by  a  desire  for^  abbreviation  ;  it  is  also 
possible  1  that  Budhasvainin  is  an  independent  writer  rather  than 
a  mere  epitomator,  although  he  may  have  adhered  to  Gunadhya's 
narrative  in  the  main.  But  it  is  clear^  from  the  way  in  which  the 
thread  of  the  main  story  of  Naravahanadatta  is  kept  from  being 
lost  in  an  interminable  maze  of  loosely  gathered  episodes,  that 
these  interruptions  or  deviations  from  the  predominant  interest 
could  not  have  occurred  on  a  large  scale  in  the  original,  if  we  are 
to  presume  from  its  reputation  that  it  was  a  work  of  no  small 
literary  merit.  It  seems,  therefore,  that  Budhasvamin  follows 
the  original  with  greater  fidelity  2  than  Ksemendra  and  Somadeva, 
who,  apart  from  minor  stories  which  they  individually  insert, 
are  following  a  recension  refashioned  and  much  enlarged  in 
Kashmir.  In  this  recension  the  central  theme  appears  to  occupy, 
after  the  fashion  of  Kavya-poets,  a  subordinate  interest;  their 
essentials  are  often  abridged  and  throughout  sacrificed  to  the 
uluborutioii  of  subsidiary  adventures,  as  well  as  to  a  somewhat 
confused  insertion  of  tales  derived  from  other  sources.  Whether 
this  Kashinirian  recension  was  in  Pai&lc!  or  in  Sanskrit  is 
not  known ;  but  Somadeva  distinctly  speaks  of  having  altered 
the  language,  and  there  are  not  enough  verbal  similarities3 
between  Somadeva  and  Ksemendra  to  warrant  the  supposition 
oi  a  common  Sanskrit  original. 

In  the  absence  of  the  original  work  of  Gunadhya,  an  estimate 
of  its  literary  merit  would  be  futile.  Each  of  the  three  adap- 
tations have  their  own  characteristics,  which  may  or  may  not 
have  been  inherited  from  the  original.  Ksemendra 's  abridged 
compilation  is  rapid,  dreary  and  uninspiring,  except  in  orna- 
mental passages,"  which  doubtless  show  the  influence  of  the 
Kavya.  Somadeva' s  larger  and  more  popular  masterpiece  has 

J     Winternitz,  GIL,  III,  pp.  315-17. 

*     Lac6be,  Essai,  p.  207  f,  Lacote  believes  that  the  Kashmir  recension  is  far  removed  from 
the  original  Bfhatkatha.  and  was  compiled  about  the  7th  century  A.D. 
3     Bpeyer.oy.  eft.,  p.  27  f, 


been  rightly  praised  for  its  immensely  superior  quality  of  vivid 
story-telling  and  its  elegantly  clear,  moderate  and  appropriate 
style.  Budhasvatnin's  abstract,  considered  nearer  to  the  original, 
is  marked  by  a  sense  of  proportion  both  in  matter  and  manner  a 
rapid  narration,  power  of  characterisation  and  simple  description, 
as  well  as  by  a  more  bourgeois  spirit  and  outlook  suiting  the 
popular  tale  ;  but,  in  spite  of  these  qualities,  it  is  of  a  somewhat 
prosaic  cast.  It  is  difficult  to  say  how  far  all  the  praiseworthy 
qualities,  if  not  the  blemishes,  of  these  late  versions,  produced 
under  different  conditions,  were  present  in  the  primary  Brhatkatha, 
a  verbal  or  even  a  confident  substantial  reconstruction  of  which 
is  wellnigh  impossible.  To  judge,  however,  from  the  principal 
theme, -stories  and  characters,  as  well  ay  iiom  the  general  method 
and  outlook,  it  is  possible  to  assert  that  Gunadbya  must  have 
been  a  master  at  weaving  into  his  simple  story  of  romantic 
adventure  all  the  marvels  of  myth,  magic  and  fairy  tale,  as  well 
as  a  kaleidoscopic  view  of  varied  and  well-conceived  characters  and 
situations.  Although  JSaravahanadatta  is  a  prince,  the  story  is 
not  one  of  court  life  or  courtly  adventure,  nor  even  of  heroic 
ideals ;  it  is  essentially  a  picture  consonant  with  the  middle  class 
view  of  life  and  sublimated  with  the  romance  of  strange  adventure 
in  fairy  lands  of  fancy.  It  is  certainly  a  work  of  larger  and 
more  varied  appeal,  containing  a  gallery  ol  sketches  from  liie, 
romantic  as  well  as  real ;  and  Keith  is  perhaps  just  in  character- 
ising it  as  a  kind  of  bourgeois  epic.  The  loves  of  the  much- 
married  Naravahanaclatta  are  perhaps  too  numerous  and  too  light- 
hearted,  like  those  of  his  famed  father  LJdayana,  but  his  chief  and 
best  love,  Madanamanjuka,  has  only  one  parallel  in  Vasantasena 
of  the  Mfcchakatika  ;  while  in  Goraukha  we  have  a  fine  example  of 
an  energetic,  resourceful  and  wise  courtier  and  friend.  It  cannot 
be  determined  with  certainty  if  the  numerous  tales  of  fools,  rogues 
and  naughty  women  existed  in  the  original ;  but  they  form  an 
unparalleled  store-house  ot  racy  and  amusing  stories,  which  evince 
a  wide  and  intimate  experience  of  human  life  and  are  in  keeping 
with  the  humour  and  robust  good  sense  of  people  at  large. 



From  the  dramatic  fragments  of  Asvaghosa  it  is  not  unreason- 
able to  assume  that  between  him  and  Kalidasa,  there  intervened 
a  period  of  cultivation  of  the  dramatic  art,  which  we  find  fully 
developed  in  the  dramas  of  Kalidasa,  and  which  is  warranted  by 
Kalidasa's  own  references  to  the  works  of  Bhasa,  Somila  and 
Kaviputra.  Of  the  dramatic  works  of  the  last  two  authors  we 
know  nothing,  but  a  great  deal  of  facts  and  fancies  are  now  avail- 
able about  Bhasa's  dramas. 

Before  1912  Bhasa  was  known  only  by  reputation,  having 
been  honoured  by  Kalidasa  and  Bana  as  a  great  predecessor  and 
author  of  a  number  of  plays,  and  praised  and  cited  by  a  succes- 
sion of  writers  in  later  times1 ;  but  since  then,  much  discussion 
has  centred  round  his  name  with  the  alleged  discovery  of  his 
original  dramas.  Between  1912  and  1915,  T.  Ganapati  Sastri 
published  from  Trivandrum  thirteen  plays  of  varying  size  and 
merit,  which  bore  no  evidence  of  authorship,  but  which,  on 
account  of  certain  remarkable  characteristics,  he  ascribed  to  the 
far-famed  Bhasa.  All  the  plays  appear  to  have  been  based  upon 
legendary  material,  but  some  draw  their  theine  iruin  the  Epic 
and  Puranic  sources.  From  the  Kamayaim,  we  have  the  Pratima 
and  the  Abhise/ca ;  from  the  Mahabharata,  the  Madhyama, 
Duta-vakya,  Diita-ghatotkaca,  Karna-bhara,  Uru-bhanga  and 
Pancaratra ;  but  the  Svapna-rdsavadatta,  Pratijna-yaugandhara- 
yariaiAvi-maraka&ud  Carndatta  Lave  legendary  or  invented  plots, 
while  the  Bala-carita  deals  with  the  Puranic  Krsna  legend.2  The 

1  8.  Le*vi,  TMAtre  indtent  Paris  18DO,  i,  p,  157  f  and  ii,  pp.  31-32  gives  a  r&mine'  of 
literary  itiejeiub  to  Llafaa  km^c  up  to  tLat  time ;  otLer  up-to-date  rel'ereocea  are  collected 
together  in  Appendix  0  to  C.  H.  Devadhar's  ed,  of  the  plays,  cited  below. 

3  The  legend  is,  of  course,  also  found  in  the  Harivarpja.— All  the  plays  are  available  in  a 
handy  form  i&'Bhasa->na{aka-cakra  or  Plays  ascribed  to  Bhdsa,  published-  by  C,  E.  Devadhar, 
Poona  1937,  but  it  is  better  to  conHult  the  origiual  Trivandrum  editions,  to  which  references 
are  givtn  below.  Trs.  into  English  in  two  volumes  by  W.  C.  Woolner  and  L.  Samp,  Oxford 
University  Press,  1030-31.  There  are  also  numerous  editions  of  some  of  the  individual 
but  it  is  not  necessaiy  to  enumerate  them  here. 


plays  were  bailed  with  enthusiasm  as  the  long-lost  works  of 
Bhasa,  but  the  rather  hasty  approbation  of  a  novelty  soon  died 
down  in  a  whirlwind  of  prolonged  controversy.  A  large  number 
of  scholars  of  eminence  and  authority  whole-heartedly  supported 
the  attribution  to  Bhasa1,  but  the  reasons  adduced  did  not  \\in 
entire  and  universal  satisfaction.2  This  led  to  a  further  and 
more  detailed  examination  of  the  question,  yielding  some  fruitful 
results,  and  new  facts  regarding  the  plays  were  also  brought  to 
light.  Important  arguments  were  advanced  on  both  sides  ;  but 
it  is  remarkable  that  there  is  riot  a  single  argument  on  either  side1 
which  can  be  regarded  as  conclusive,  or  which  may  not  be  met 
with  an  equally  plausible  argument  on  the  opposite  side.8  The 
problem  to-day  is  delicately  balanced  ;  but  since  emphasis  may 
be  laid  on  this  or  that  point,  according  to  personal  predilection, 
scholars,  with  a  few  exception,  appear  to  have  taken  up  unflinch- 
ing attitudes  and  arrayed  themselves  in  opposite  camps.  Between 
the  two  extremes  lies  the  more  sober  view4  which  recognises  that 

1  For    a    bibliographical   note   of  publications  on  Bbasa  till  1921,  see  V.  S.  Sukthankar  in 
JBRAS,  1921-22,  pp.  230-49.     The  following  publications  after  1921    are  of  interest  :  S   Levi 
in  JA,  1928,  p.  19  f ;  A.K.  and  K.R.  Pisharoti  in  BSOS,  III,  p.  107  f ;  T.  Ganaputi    Sastri    in 
JRAS,  1924,  p.  668  and  BSOS,  ITT,  p.  627  ;  A.  K.  Pisharoti,    Bhasas  Worts  (reprinted    from 
Malayalain  journal,  liasikaratna),  Trhandrum  1925;  K.  R.  Pisharoti  in  BSOS,  III,  p.  639,  in 
IHQ,  I,  1925,  pp.  103  f ,  inlJBRAS.  1925,  p.  246  f ;  C.  K.,  Devadhar  in  ABORl,  1924-25,  p.  55  f ; 
C.  Kunhan  Raja  in  Zeitschr.  /.  Ind.  und  Iran,  II,  p.  247  f  and  Journal  of    Orient.  Research, 
Madras   1927,  p.  232  f ;  W.  K.  Clarke  in    JAOS,  XLIV,  p.  101  f ;  F.  W.  Thomas    in    JRAS, 
1922,  p.  79  f,  1925,  p.  130  f  and  1927,  p.  877  f ;  Keith  in  BSOS,  III,  p.  295   f ;   H,    Weller  in 
Festgabe  Harmann  Jacobi,  Bonn   1926,  pp.  114-125 ;    Winternitz  in  Woolner  Comm.  Volume 
1940,  p.  297  f ;  A.  D.  Puselker,  Bhasa,  a  Study,  Lahore  1940,  etc. 

2  The  first  doubt  appears  to  have  been  voiced      independently    by   Ramavatar    Sarma  in 
Sarada,  I,    Allahabad  1914-15,  and  by  L.  D.  Barnett  in  JRASt  1919,  p.  233  f  and  in   BSOSt 
1920,    I,   pt.     3,     pp.      35-38   (also       JRAS,    1921,    pp.    587-89,     BSOSt    III,    pp.   35, 
519,     JRASt     1925,    p.  99).     Among    dissenters   are      also    Bhattanatha      Svarnin  in    I  A, 
XLV,  1916,  pp.  189-95 ;  K.  R.  Pisharoti  in  works  cited  above ;  and  Hirananda  Sastri  in  Bhasa 
and  Authorship  of  the  Trivandrum  Plays  in  Memoirs    of    Arch.    Surv.    of    India,    No.    28, 
Calcutta  1926 ;  S.  Kuppusvarui  Sastri   in   Introd.   to    Saktibhadra's   Ascarya-cujdmani,   ed. 
Balamanorama  Press,  Madras  1929. 

3  An  admirably  judicious  summary  of  the  important  arguments  on  both  sides  is  given 
by  V.  8.  Sukthanknr  in  the  bibliographical  note  cited  above,  and  in  JBRAS,  1915,  p.  126  f. 

*  Notably  Sukthankar,  cited  above,  and  Winternitz  in  GIL,  III,  pp.  186,  645;  but  later 
ojj  \Viuternitz  is  reported  to  have  expressed  the  opinion  that  he  is  no  longer  a  believer  in 
Bhaaa'B  authorship  of  the  plays  (C.  R.  Devadhar's  Preface  to  the  ed.  cited  above). 


a  prima  facie  case  for  Bhasa's  authorship  can  be  made   out,    but 
the  evidence  available  does  not. amount  to  conclusive  proof. 

It  will  not  be  profitable  to  enter  into  the  details  of  the 
controversy,  but  certain  facts  and  arguments  are  to  be  taken  into 
account  before  we  can  enter  into  a  consideration  of  the  plays. 
Since  learned  opinion  is,  not  without  reason,  strangely  divided , 
nothing  is  gained  by  dogmatic  and  sweeping  assertions  ;  and  it 
should  be  frankly  recognised  that  the  problem  is  neither  simple 
nor  free  from  difficulties.  The  first  difficulty  is  the  absence  of 
the  name  of  the  author,  in  the  prologues  and  colophons,  of  all 
the  thirteen  plays.  It  has  been  argued  that  this  would  testify 
to  the  great  antiquity  of  the  plays ;  and  it  has  been  assumed, 
plausibly  but  without  proof,  that  the  colophons  were  not  preserv- 
ed or  that  such  details  were  left  out  in  pre-classical  times.  But 
while  nothing  can  be  argued  from  our  absolute  lack  of  knowledge 
of  pre-classical  practice,  the  accidental  and  wholesale  loss  of 
the  colophons  of  all  manuscripts  of  all  the  thirteen  plays  by 
the  same  author  is  an  assumption  which  demands  too  much 
from  probability.  On  the  other  hand,  the  fact  should  be 
admitted  at  the  outset  that  these  plays  are  not  forgeries,  but  form 
a  part  of  the  repertoire  of  a  class  of  hereditary  actors  of  Kerala 
(Cakkyars),  that  manuscripts  of  the  plays  are  by  no  means  rare, 
and  that  in  omitting  the  name  of  the  author,  they  resemble  some 
of  the  plays  of  other  classical  authors  similarly  preserved  by  actors 
in  Kerala.  That  they  are  not  the  absolutely  original  dramas  of 
Bhasa  follows  from  this;  and  the  assumption  that  they  are 
adaptations,  in  which  the  adapters  had  obvious  reasons  to  remain 
nameless,  is  at  least  not  less  plausible.  The  next  argument 
regarding  the  technique  of  the  plays  is  perhaps  more  legitimate ; 
for  there  is  undoubtedly  a  lack  of  conformity  to  the  dramaturgic 
regulations  of  Bharata  and  his  followers,  which  are  more  or  less 
obeyed  by  the  normal  classical  drama.  But  the  argument  is  not 
as  sound  as  it  appears.  The  technical  peculiarities1  relate  to  the 
commencement  of  the  Prologue  by  the  Sutradhara,  which  is 

1    M.  Lindenau,  Bhasa-stvdien,   Leipzig  1918,  pp.  30-87, 


supposed  to  have  been  noticed  by  Bfmnbhatta,  the  use  of  the 
word  Sthapana  for  Prastavauu,,  the  introduction  of  stage-figbts 
and  death-scenes,  the  tragic  ending  in  some  plays,  and  the 
difference  4n  the  Bharata-vakya.  ft  has  been  shewn  in  reply 
that,  while  Bana's  reference  is  either  obscure,  misunderstood  or 
entirely  irrelevant,1  the  formal  features  recur  also  in  Malayalam 
manuscripts  of  quite  a  number  of  Sanskrit  plays  of  other  .authors 
and  are  capable  of  other  explanations  equally  plausible.  In  the 
absence  of  adequate  knowledge  of  pre-classical  lechnique,  such 
peculiarities,  as  are  not  confined  to  the  dramas  in  question  alone, 
are  hardly  of  decisive  value  ;  at  most,  we  can  infer  the  interest- 
ing existence  of  a  different  dramaturgic  tradition,  but  this  does 
not  prove  the,  antiquity  of  the  Trivandrurn  plays. 

It  has  been  also  argued  by  the  supporters  of  the  attribution 
that  expressions  and  ideas  from  these  plays  have  been  borrowed 
or  exploited  by  authors  like  Kalidasa  and  Bhavabhuti.  While 
no  strict  proof  or  criterion  of  indebtedness  is  possible,  it  can  be 
equally  well  argued,  on  the  contrary,  that  the  author  or  adapter 
of  these  anonymous  plays  *  plagiarised  the  alleged  passages 
from  standard  Sanskrit  authors.  The  citations,  again,  from 
Bhasa,  or  criticisms  in  the  rhetorical  or  anthological  literature,2 

1  It  is  pointed  out  that  Bana's  reference  merely  speaks  of  the  Bhasa  dramas 
commenced  by  the  Sutra<5hfi,ra,  a  characteristic  which,  being  true  of  all  Sanskrit  playa,  has  no 
special  application  here.  The  formula  nandyanle>  found  in  the  Southern  manuscripts  before 
and  not  after  the  N&ndf-^loka  is  now  known  to  be  a  characteustic  of  most  South  Indian 
manuscripts  of  Sanskrit  plays  in  general,  ami  was,  thus,  apparently  a  kcal  practice,  \\hich 
is  neither  material  nor  relevant  to  the  discussion.  It  is  not  clear  if  Bana  is  really  alluding 
to  such  techuical  jjfujovatiofcp  &B  the  shortening  of  the  preliminaries  or  the  combining  of  the 
functions  of;  the  SutradhSr&^nd  the  Sthapaka.  The  rhetorical  works  are  neither  unanimous 
nor  perfectly  clear  regarding  the  jjbsltion  of  the  vdndyanic  formula  or  the  use  of  the  word 
Sthapanft.  With  regard  to  the  employment  of  the  Bharata-vakya,  again,  the  Tnvandrum 
plays  do  not  ^follow  a  uniform  practice  which  would  support  any  definite  conclusion 
regarding  them.  There  are  no  such  extraordinary  Patakas  in  the  Trivandrum  plnys  as 
suggested  by  Bana^  description  . 

*  The  thirteen  antbolopry  verses  ascribed  to  Bhfisa  (one  of  which  occurs  in  the 
Matta-vilasa  and  four  aie  attributed  to  other  authors)  are  missing  in  the  Trivandium  plays. 
Even  if  this  is  suspicious,  it  proves  nothing  because  of  the  notoriously  uncertain  and 
fluctuating  character  of  anthological  attributions.  ^  See  F.  W.  Thomas  in  JIIAS,  1927f 
P.  883  f. 


relied  upon  by  the  supporters  of  the  theory,  have  some  plausi- 
bility, but  they  do  not  prove  much  ;  for  these  authors  do  not 
unfortunately  name  the  plays  from  which  the  passages  are  taken, 
ft  is  true  that  one  of  the  famous  dramas  of  Bhasa  is  cited  and 
styled  Svapna-vasavadatta  by  some  old  authors1 ;  but  here  again 
the  difficulty  is  that  our  present  text  of  the  Trivandrum  Svapna- 
nfitaka  does  not  contain  some  verses  quoted  by  certain  rhetori- 
cians.2 The  difficulty  is  indeed  not  insuperable,  inasmuch  as 
one  can  imagine  that  they  are  misquotations,  or  that  they  are 
lost  in  the  present  recension  ;  but  the  wholly  conjectural 
character  of  such  an  explanation  is  obvious.  The  discussion 
regarding  references  in  the  plays  to  Medhatithi's  Bhasya  on  Manu8 
or  to  the  Artha-£dstra{  has  not  also  proved  very  fruitful.  And, 
the  least  valid  of  all  appears  to  be  the  Prakrit  argument,5 
which  presumes  that  archaisms  in  the  Prakrit  of  the  plays 
prove  their  earliness ;  for  it  is  now  clear  that  some  of 
them  are  obvious  blunders,  and  that,  of  those  which  are  genuine, 
archaisms  of  a  similar  type  recur  in  the  Malayalam  manuscripts8 
of  the  plays  of  other  authors,  including  those  of  Kalidasa  and 
Harsa;  they  are  apparently  local  developments  and  cannot  be 
made  the  safe  basis  of  any  chronological  or  literary  conclusion.7 

1  The  argument  regarding  the  impossibility  of  the  plagiarism  of  the  title  does  not,  as 
Burnett  points  out,  carry  much  weight,  since  wo  know  of  three  Kumftra-satnbhavas. 

1  Sukthankar  in  JBRAS,  1925,  p  135  f,  shews  that  the  referenca  of  Bamacandra  and 
Grunacandra  in  their  Natya-darpana  contains  a  situation  and  a  stanza,  quoted  from  a  Svopna- 
r&savadatta  of  Bhasa,  which  really  belongs,  with  some  textual  difference,  to  the  Trivandrum 
play.  F.  W  Thomas  in  JRAS,  192R,  p.  835  f,  similarly  deals  with  Abhinav-igupta's  citation 
missing  in  the  Trivandrum  play.  C,f.  also  F.  W.  Thomas  in  JRAS,  1922,  p  100  f. 

3  Barnett  in  BSOS,  ITT,  pp.  35,  520-21 ;  K«ith    in    BSOSt   III,  p.  623  f ;  Suktbank*r  in 
JfUUS,  1925,  pp.  131-82. 

4  See  Hirananda  Sastri,   op.  ctt.,  p.  13  f. 

6  W.  Printz,  Bhasa's  Prakrit,  Frankfurt  19  H  ;  Keith  in  BSOS,  IIT,  p.  290;  V.  Lesoy  in 
ZDAfO,  LiXXH,  1918,  p.  203  f ;  SnkthanUr  in  J4OS,  XL,  1920,  pp.  243-59,  andJBJUS, 
i'J25,pp.  103-117. 

*     Pisharoti  in  BSOS,  III,  p.  109. 

7  Sukthankar  in  JBRAS,  1925,  p.  103  f.  Even  wh^re  the  archaisms  are  genuine,  it 
is,  as  H.  L.  Turner  points  out.  (JRAS,  1925,  p.  1?5),  dangeroui  to  argue  about  date  without 
fall  appreciation  of  possible  dialectical  differences,  becmse  a  form  may  not  necessarily  in  licate 
difference  of  age  but  only  a  difference  of  dialect  or  locality. 


The  historical  discussion,  again,  regarding  the  identity  of 
Bhasa's  patron,  alleged  to  be  mentioned  in  the  word  rdjasimha 
of  the  Bharata-vakya,  is  similarly  shown  to  be  of  very  doubtful 

Leaving  aside  minor  questions,  these  are,  in  brief,  some  of 
the  important  problems  that  arise  out  of  the  Trivandrum  plays. 
It  will  be  seen  that  the  same  material  hns  led  to  absolutely 
contradictory  results  ;  but  none  of  the  arguments  advanced  in 
support  of  Bhasa's  authorship  is  incontrovertible  or  reasonably 
conclusive.  Opinion,  again,  is  sharply  divided  about  the  age  of 
the  plays,2  between  those  who  place  them  in  the  5th  century  B.C. 
and  those  who  bring  them  down  by  different  stages  to  the  llth 
century  A.D.,  the  estimate  varying  by  about  sixteen  centuries  ! 
It  is  no  wonder,  therefore,  that  the  whole  question  has  run  the 
normal  course  of  enthusiastic  acceptance,  sceptical  opposition 
and  subdued  suggestion  of  a  via  media.  But  beneath  all  this 
diversity  of  opinion  lurks  the  fundamental  divergence  about  the 
literary  merits  of  the  plays,  the  supporters  claiming  high 
distinction,  worthy  of  a  master-mind,  and  the  dissenters  holding 
that  the  works  are  of  a  mediocre  or  even  poor  quality.  As  the 
question  of  literary  excellence  is  not  capable  of  exact  determina- 
tion, the  difference  of  opinion  is  likely  to  continue,  according  to 
the  personal  bias  of  the  particular  critic,  until  some  objective 
factor  or  material  would  supply  a  conclusive  solution  to  the 
problem.  But  it  should  be  made  clear  that  the  whole  discussion 
has  now  come  to  a  point  where  the  plays  need  no  longer  be 
made  the  fertile  ground  of  romantic  speculations.  Already 
different  aspects  of  the  plays  have  been  searchingly  investi- 

1  Sten  Konow,  Ind.  Drama,  p.  51,  would  assign  the  author  of  the  plays  to  the  reign 
of  Ksatrapa  Rudrtsiipha  I,  i.e.,  2nd  century  A.D.,  but  the  arguments  are  not  conclusive. 
Bamett  conjectures  that  rajasimha  is  a  proper  name  and  refers  to  Paijdya  Ter-Maran 
Bajasirph*  I  (c.  676  A.D  ). 

1  Pee  Sukfchankar,  JBRAS  1923  p.  233,  for  different  estimates  of  the  date  by  different 


gated  1  ;  and  even  if  no  definite  solution  is  yet  logically  justified 
by  the  results  of  these  intensive  studies,  they  have  helped  to  clear 
up  misconceptions,  negative  baseless  presumptions,  and  bring 
together  a  mass  of  material  for  further  research. 

These  studies  have  now  made  it  reasonable  to  assume  that 
the  Trivandrum  plays,  whether  they  are  by  Bhasa  or  by  some 
other  playwright,  are  of  the  nature  of  adaptations  or  abridge- 
ments made  for  the  stage,  and  they  have  in  fact  been  regularly- 
used  as  stage -plays  in  the  Kerala  country.  This  very  important 
fact  should  not  be  lost  sight  of  in  any  discussion  of  the  plays. 
It  explains  the  traditional  handing  down  of  the  plays  without 
mention  of  the  author's  name,  in  closely  resembling  prologues, 
which  are  probably  stage-additions,  as  well  as  the  coincidence  of 
formal  technique  and  a  large  number  of  repetitions  and  parallels, 
which  recur  in  these,  as  also  in  some  other  Sanskrit 
plays  of  Kerala.2  Some  unquestionably  old  Prakritic  forms  and 
genuine  grammatical  solecisms  may  have  in  this  way  been 
fossilised  and  preserved,  although  they  do  not  necessarily  prove 
the  antiquity  or  authorship  of  the  plays.  The  thirteen  Trivan- 
drum plays  reveal  undoubted  similarities,  not  only  verbal  and 
structural,  but  also  stylistic  and  ideological,  which  might 
suggest  unity  of  authorship, — a  theory  indicated  by  the  reference 
of  Bana  and  others  to  a  Bhasa  Nataka-cakra;  but  since  these  are 
adaptations,  and  the  originals  are  not  known,  it  would  be  unsafe 
to  postulate  common  authorship  on  similarities  which  occur  also 
in  plays  of  other  known  authors  preserved  in  Kerala. 

1  E.g.»  on  the  Prakrits  of  the  plays,  by  Prioiz,  Sukthankar  and  others,  as  noted  above ; 
on  lexicographical  and  grammatical  peculiarities,  by  C.  J.  Ogden  in  JAOS,  XXXV,  1915, 
pp.  269  f  (a  list  of  solecisms  are  given  in  A  pp.  B  in  Devadhara's  ed.) ;  on  metrical  questions, 
by  V.  8.  Sukthankar  in  JAOS,  XLI,  1921,  pp.  10730;  on  the  sources  of  the  Udayana 
legend,  by  F.  Lacote  in  JA,  XIII,  1010,  pp.  103-525  and  P.  I).  Gune  in  ABORI,  1, 1920-21, 
pp.  1-91  ;  on  a  concordance  of  parallel  and  recurrent  passages,  by  Sukthankar  in  ABORI,  IV, 
1923,  p.  170  f:  on  the  relationship  between  the  Cdrudatta  and  fie  Mrcchakattka  by 
Morgenstierne,  Vbe^  das  Verhaltnis  zwischen  Carndatta  und  Mrcchakatika,  Leipzig  1921, 
S.  K.  Belvalkar  in  Proc.  of  the  First  Orient  Con/.,  1022,  p.  180  f,  Sukthankar  in  JAOS,  XLII, 
1922,  pp.  69-74,  and  J.  Charpentier  in  JRAS,  1923,  p.  599  f ;  etc. 

8    Some  of  these  are  collected  together  in  Hirananda  Sastri,  op.  cit.,  pp.  14-16. 

10&  HISTOfty  0#   SANSKEIt  LITERAtUftE 

A  modified  form  of  the  theory  makes  an  exception  in  favour 
of  a  limited  number  of  the  dramas,  the  merits  of  which  have 
received  wice  recognition.  It  suggests  that  possibly  Bhasa 
wrote  a  Svapna-vasavadatta 1  and  a  Pratijna-yaugandharayana, 
closely  related  to  it,  of  which  the  present  texts  give  Malayalara 
recensions,  and  that  the  present  Carudatta  is  the  fragmentary 
original  of  the  first  four  acts  of  the  Mrcchakatika  of  Sudraka, 
or  at  any  rate  it  has  preserved  a  great  deal  of  the  original  upon 
which  Sudraka's  drama  is  based. a  But  the  authorship  of  the 
remaining  plays  is  as  yet  quite  uncertain.  It  must  be  said  that  the 
reasons  adduced  for  these  views  undoubtedly  make  out  a  strong 
case ;  but  they  are  still  in  a  great  measure  conjectural,  and  do  not 
lead  to  any  finality.  It  is  possible  also  that  the  five  one-act  Maba- 
bharata  pieces  form  a  closely  allied  group,  as  the  surviving 
intermediate  acts  of  a  lengthy  dramatised  version  of  the  Maha- 
bharata  story;  but  here  also  we  have  no  definite  means  of 
ascertaining  it  for  a  fact. 

In  view  of  these  difficulties  and  uncertainties,  it  is  clear 
that  it  behoves  the  sober  student  to  adopt  an  attitude  free  from 
susceptibility  to  any  hasty  or  dogmatic  conclusion.  The 
objective  criterion  proving  insufficient,  the  ultimate  question 
really  comes  to  an  estimate  of  the  literary  merits  of  the  plays; 
but  on  a  point  like  this,  opinion  is  bound  to  be  honestly  diver- 
gent and  naturally  illusive.  The  circumstance  that  all  these 
plays,  even  including  the  limited  number  which  may  be,  with 
some  reason,  ascribed  to  Bhasa,  are  Malayalam  adaptations  or 
recensions  of  the  original,  causes  a  further  difficulty;  for  the 
plays  are  in  a  sense  by  Bhasa,  but  in  a  sense  they  are  not.  The 
fact  of  their  being  recasts  does  not,  of  course,  make  them 

1  Sukthankar,  in  JBRAS,  1925, 134  f,  and  Thomas  in  JRAS,  1928,  p.  876  f,  believe 
that  the  Trivandrum  Svapna  has  probable  minor  changes,  but  has  not  undergone  any  great 

8  Morgenstierne,  Sukthankar  and  Belvalkar,  as  cited  above.  The  C&rudatta  is 
undoubtedly  a  fragment,  but  from  internal  evidence  it  is  probable  chat  the  author  or  the 
compiler  never  contemplated  writing  only  four  acts.  It  is,  however,  not  explained  why  this 
work  alone  is  recovered  as  a  fragment.  See  below  under  fiudraka. 


forfeit  their  connexion  with  the  original,  but  the  extent  to  which 
older  material  has  been  worked  over  or  worked  up  by  a  later 
hand  is  unknown  and  uncertain.  The  suggestions  that  have 
been  made  about  distinguishing  the  apparently  older  from  the 
more  modern  matter  and  manner  are  more  or  less  arbitrary  ;  for, 
in  spite  of  unquestionably  primitive  traits,  the  process  involves 
the  difficulty  of  distinguishing  the  true  Bhasa  from  the  pseudo- 
Bhasa,  not  merely  play  by  play,  but  scene  by  scene,  and  even 
verse  by  verse.  •  It  must  also  be  admitted  that  all  the  plays 
are  not,  by  whatever  standard  they  are  judged,  of  equal  merit, 
and  cannot  be  taken  as  revealing  the  alleged  master-mind.  One 
must  feel  that  some  of  the  scenes  are  very  inferior  and  some  of 
the  verses  are  of  feeble  workmanship.  At  the  same  time,  it 
can  hardly  be  denied  that  here  we  have  a  series  of  plays,  which 
are  of  varying  merit  but  not  devoid  ot  interest ;  that  in  part  or  in 
entirety  they  may  not  belong  to  Bhasa,  but  they  certainly 
represent  a  somewhat  different  tradition  of  dramatic  practice; 
and  that,  if  they  are  not  as  old  as  some  critics  think,  they  are  of 
undoubted  importance  in  the  literary  history  of  the  Sanskrit 

Leaving  aside  the  fragmentar}  Carudatta  in  four  acts,1  the 
two  dramas  which  have  won  almost  universal  approbation  are 
the  Svapna-vasavadatta  and  the  PratijM-yaiigandharayana-,  and, 
in  spite  of  obvious  deficiencies,  the  approbation  is  not  unjust. 
Both  these  works  are  linked  together  by  external  similarities  and 
internal  correspondences ;  and  their  theme  is  drawn  from  the 

1  Ed.  T.  Gauapati  Sastri,  Trivandrucn  Sansk.  Ser.,  1914, 1922 ;  the  text,  along  with 
correspondences  to  Sudraka's  Mfcchal{atiJ\at  is  reprinted  by  Morgenstierne,  op.  cit.  The 
fragment  has  no  N&ndl  verse,  and  abruptly  ends  with  the  heroine's  resohe  to  start  out  for 
C&rudatta's  house.  The  dramatic  incidents  do  not  show  any  material  divergence  of  a  literary 
significance  from  SudrakA's  dram*. —The  Bhasa  play  a  are  published  in  the  following  order  by 
T.  Ganapati  Sastri  from  Trivandrum  :  Svapna  (also  1915,  1916,1923,  1924),  PratijUa  (also 
1920),  Avi.maraka,  Paftcaratra  (also  1017),  Bala-carita,  Madhyama  (also  1917),  Duta-vakya 
(also  1918,1925),  Duta-ghatotkaca,  Karna-bhara  and  Uru-bhanga— all  in  1912,  the  last  five  in 
one  volume,  the  other*  separately;  A  bh  i$eka  1913;  Carudatta  1914  (also  1922) ;  and 
1916  (algo  19<>4). 


same  legend-cycle  of  Udayana,1  the  semi-historical  beau  ideal  of 
Sanskrit  literature,  whose  story  must  have  been  so  popularised 
by  the  Brhatkatha  that  Kalidasa  assures  us  of  its  great  popularity 
in  his  time  at  Avanti.  The  story  of  Udayana's  two  pretty  amou- 
rettes supply  the  romantic  plot  to  Harsa's  two  elegant  plays  ;  but 
what  we  have  here  is  not  the  mere  banality  of  an  amusing  court- 
intrigue.  In  the  Pratijna,  Udayana  and  Vasavadatta  do  not 
make  their  appearance  at  all,  but  we  are  told  a  great  deal  about 
them,  especially  about  Udayana's  accomplishments,  his  courage, 
his  love  and  impetuous  acts.  It  is  really  a  drama  of  political 
intrigue,  in  which  the  minister  Yaugandharayana,  as  the  title 
indicates,  is  the  central  figure;  but  it  achieves  a  more  diversified 
interest  than  the  Mudra-raksasa  by  interweaving  the  well-known 
romance  of  Udayana's  love  and  adventure  into  the  plot. 
Although  the  whole  drama  is  characterised  by  simplicity  and 
rapidity  of  action,  it  cannot  be  said  that  the  plot  is  clearly  and 
carefully  developed.  The  ruse  of  the  artificial  elephant  appears  to 
have  been  criticised  by  Bhamaha  (iv.  40)  as  incredible,  especially 
as  Udayana  is  described  as  one  well-versed  in  the  elephant-lore, 
but  it  is  a  device  which  is  not  unusual  in  the  popular  tale  and 
need  not  be  urged  as  a  serious  defect.  It  is,  however,  not  made 
clear  at  what  stage  the  incident  of  the  music  lesson,  alluded  to 
in  IV.  18,  actually  took  place,2  nor  why  the  captive  king,  at 
first  treated  with  honour  and  sympathy,  was  thrown  into  prison 

1  On  the  legend  of  Udayana,  see  Lacdte,  cited  above,  and   A.  V.  W.  Jackson's  intro- 
duction to  Priyadar$ikat  p.  Ixiii  f  and  references  cited  therein. 

2  It  could  not  have  come  between  Acts  II  and  III  for  the  jester  and  the  mi-lister  know 
nothing  of  it ;  and   Udayana's  famous   lute  is  sent  by  Pradyota  to   Vasavadatta  in  Act  II, 
while  Udayara  lies  wounded  in  the  middle  palace.    In  Act  III  we  are  told  that  Udayana,  now 
in  prison ;  somehow   recovers  the  lute  and ,  catches  sight  of  Vaaavadatta,  as   she  goes  in  an 
open  palanquin  to   worship  at  a  shrine  opposite  the  prison-gate.     Nor  is  the   music  lesson 
made  the  occpdion  of  the  first  meeting  between  Acts  III  and  I  /  ;  and  yet  no  other  version  is 
given  in  the  play.    Laodte  is  perhaps  right  in  pointing  out  that  the   allusive  waj  in  which 
the  theme  is  developed  in  these  plays  proves  that  it    w«s    already   familiar  to  their  audience, 
and  the  details,  which  the  dramatist  casually   introduces  or  omits,   are   to  be   supplied  from 
popular  tradition.    The  hiatus,  therefore,  did  not  perhaps  prove  very  serious  or  mateiial  to  the 
audience  of  the  plays. 


so  that  "  bis  fetters  clank  as  he  bows  before  the  gods."  Never- 
theless, the  drama  finely  depicts  the  sentiment  of  fidelity  of  a 
minister  who  is  prepared  even  by  sacrifice  of  himself  to  bring 
about  a  successful  royal  alliance.  Some  of  the  episodes, 
especially  the  domestic  scene  at  the  palace  of  Mabasena  Pradyota 
and  the  amusing  interlude  of  the  intoxicated  page,  are  skilfully 
drawn  ;  the  characterisation,  especially  of  Yaugandharayana,  is 
vivid  and  effective ;  and  the  sustained  erotic  sub-plot,  despite 
the  non-appearance  of  the  principal  characters,  enhances  its  main 
interest  of  political  strategy. 

The  much  praised  Svapna-vasavadatta,  on   the   other   hand, 
'is  less  open  to  criticism.     It  is  more  effectively  devised  in  plot,1 
and  there  is   a  unity  of   purpose   and    inevitableness  of  effect. 
The  general  story   belongs  to   the  old  legend;  but  the   motif  of 
the  dream  is  finely  conceived,  the  characters  of  the  two  heroines 
are   skilfully   discriminated,    and   the  gay  old   amourist  of   the 
legend   and  of  Harsa's   dramas   is   figured  as   a  more  serious, 
faithful,   if  somewhat     love-sick   and   imaginative,   hero.     The 
main   feature  of   the  play,    however,    is   the  dramatic  skill  and 
delicacy  with  which  are  depicted  the  feelings  of   Vasavadatta,  to 
whose  noble  and  steadfast  love   no   sacrifice  is  too   great ;  while 
her  willing  martyrdom  is  set  off  by  the  equally  true,  but  helpless, 
love  of  Udayana  as   a  victim  of  divided  affections  and  motives  of 
statecraft.     It  is  a  drama   of  fine   sentiments;  the   movement  is 
smooth,  measured  and  dignified,  and  the  treatment   is   free  from 
the   intrusion  of  melodrama,    or  of  rant  and  rhetoric,   to   which 
such  sentimental  plays  are  often  liable.     If  it  is  rough-hewn  and 
unpolished,   it   also   reveals   the   sureness  of   touch  of   a  great 
dramatist ;  and  to  stint  the  word  masterpiece  to  it  is  absurd  and 

1  But  there  are  some  trifling  inconsistencies  and  lack  of  inventive  skill,  e.g.,  Ute  false 
report  of  Y&savadatti'g  death  is  made  the  pivot  of  the  plot,  but  the  audience  knows  from 
tbe  beginning  that  the  queen  is  not  really  dead.  One  may,  however,  justify  it  by 
Coleridge's  dictum  of  dramatic  expectation,  instead  of  dramatic  surprise. 


It  must  be  frankly  admitted,  however,  that  these 
features  are  not  possessed  by  the  ten  remaining  Trivandrum 
plays,  although  each  of  them  possesses  some  striking  scenes  or 
remarkable  characteristics.  Excepting  the  Paftcaratra,  which 
extends  to  three  acts,  the  Mahabharata  plays,  whose  literary 
merit  has  been  much  exaggerated,  consist  of  one  act  each,  and 
form  rather  a  collection  of  slight  dramatic  scenes  than  complete 
and  finished  dramas.  But  they  are  meant  to  be  of  a  sterner 
stuff,  and  make  up  by  vigour  what  they  lack  in  finish,  although 
a  lurking  fondness  is  discernible  for  mock-heroic  or  violent 
situations.  The  Madhyama  has  a  theme  of  the  nature  of  a  fairy 
tale,  of  which  there  is  no  hint  in  the  Epic  ;*but  the  motif  of  a 
father  meeting  and  fighting  his  own  son  unawares  is  not  original, 
nor  is  the  idea  of  the  'middle  one/  though  cleveWy  applied, 
unknown,  in  view  of  the  Brahmana  story  of  Sunah^epa  (Ait,  BTV, 
vii.  15).  What  is  original  is  the  imagining  of  the  situation  out 
of  the  epic  tale ;  but  the  possibilities  of  the  theme  are  hardly 
well-developed  within  the  narrow  limits  of  one  act.  There  is 
also  in  the  Epic  no  such  embassy  of  Bhima's  son  as  is  dramatised 
in  the  Duta-ghatotkaca,  which  describes  the  tragic  death  of 
Abhimanyu  and  the  impending  doom  of  the  Kurus  ;  there  is  some 
taunting  and  piquancy,  but  no  action,  and  the  whole  scene;  is 
nothing  more  than  a  sketch.  The  Duta-v&kya  is  more  'directly 
based  on  the  account  of  the  embassy  of  Krsna,  described  in  the 
Udyoga-parvan  ;  but  it  suffers  also  from  the  same  Lack  of  action, 
and  the  theme  is  exceedingly  compressed  and  hardly  completed. 
While  the  introduction  of  the  painted  scroll  of  Draupadi  is  an 
ingenious  invention  to  insult  the  envoy  effectively,  the  appearance 
|P|  Vi^nu's  weapons,  though  original,  is  silly  in  serving  no  useful 
dramatic  purpose.  In  spite  of  its  tragic  note  and  simplification 
of  the  original  story,  the  Karna-bhara,  which  describes  the  sad 
end  of  Karna,  is  scarcely  dramatic,  and  the  only  feature  which 
.appeals  is  the  elevation  of  Kama's  character',  it  is  not  only  a 
one-act  play  but  really  a  one-character  play.  The  same  sympathy 
for  the  fallen  hero  is  seen  in  the  Uru-bhahga,  Vhich  represents 


the  theme  of  Duryodhana's  tragic  death  somewhat  differently 
from  that  of  the  Epic.  The  noble  resignation  of  Duryodhana  and 
the  invention  of  the  poignant  passage,  which  brings  the  biind 
king  and  his  consort  on  the  scene  and  makes  Duryodhana's  little 
son  attempt  to  climb  on  his  father's  broken  thighs,  reveal  some 
dramatic  power  ;  but  the  introductory  long  description  of  the 
unseen  fight  is  not  happily  conceived,  and  the  play  is  also 
remarkable  in  having  as  many  as  sixty-six  stanzas  in  one  act 
alone  !  The  Paftcaratra,  in  three  acts,  is  longer  in  extent,  and 
perhaps  shows  more  invention  and  possesses  greater  interest.  Tt 
selects,  from  the  Virata-parvan,  the  dramatic  situation  of  the 
Pandavas  in  hiding  being  forced  into  battle  with  the  Kunis  ;  but 
it  simplifies  the  epic  story,  the  details  of  which  are  freely 
handled.  While  Trigarta's  attack  is  omitted,  Duryodhana's 
sacrifice,  the  motif  of  his  rash  promise,  Abbimanyu's  presence 
on  the  Kaurava  side  and  capture  by  Bhiraa  are  invented;  and 
Duryodhana  and  Karna  are  represented  in  more  favourable 
light,  Sakuni  being  the  only  villain  in  the  piece.  The  number 
of  characters  is  large  in  proportion  to  its  length.  The  play  is 
ingeniously  titled,  and  there  are  some  striking  dramatic  scenes; 
but  regarded  as  a  story,  it  is  far  inferior  to  that  of  the  Epic,  and 
there  is  no  substance  in  the  suggestion  that  it  is  closer  to  the 
epic  feeling  and  characterisation.  The  epic  plays  are,  no  doubt, 
of  a  heroic  character,  but  they  are  far  remo\ed  from  the  heroic 
age  ;  their  novelty  wins  a  more  indulgent  verdict  than  is  perhaps 
justified  by  their  real  merit. 

The  Ramayana  plays  are  more  ambitious  and  much  larger 
in  extent.  The  Pratima  seeks,  in  seven  acts,  to  dramatise,  with 
considerable  omission  and  alteration,  the  almost  entire  Ramayana 
story,  but  its  interest  centres  chiefly  round  the  character  of 
Bhar^ta  and  Kaikeyl.  Kaikeyi  is  conceived  as  une  femme  incom- 
prise,  a  voluntary  victim  of  public  calumny,  to  which  she  patiently 
submits  for  the  sake  of  her  husband's  honour  and  the  life  of 
her  dear  step-son  ;  and  here  again  we  find  the  same  sympathy 
for  the  martyr  and  the  persecuted.  The  development  of  the 

15— ISlftR 


plot  is   skilfully   made   to  depend  on  the   secrecy   of   Kaikeyi's 
noble  motive  for   the   seemingly  greedy   conduct   of  demanding 
the  throne  for  her  own  son  ;  but  for  this,   the  plea  of   a   Sulka 
(dowry)   promised  to   her   by  Dagaratha  has  to  be  substituted  for 
the   two  boons  of  the  original,  and  the  explanation  of  the  secrecy 
of  her  motive  itself  at  the  end  is   rather  far-fetchedv    The  scene 
of  the  Statue  Hall  is  connected    with    the  same  motif  and  creates 
a  situation ;  but  it  is  hardly    worked  out   as   the   key-note  of  the 
play,  as  the  title  would  suggest.     The  liberty  taken  in   modifying 
the  scene  of   Sita's   abduction,    no   doubt,    substitutes   a    noble 
motive  for  the  vulgar  one  of  the  greed  for  a  golden  deer  ;   but   it 
fails  to  be  impressive  by  making    Kama   a  childishly   gullible 
person  and  Eavana  a  rather    common,  boastful   villain.     One  of 
the  striking  scenes  of  the  drama  is  that  of  Dasaratha's  sorrow  and 
death,  which  reveals  a  delicate   handling   of    the   pathos  of  the 
situation  ;  but,  on  the  whole,  the, merits  and  defects  of  this  drama 
appear  to  be  evenly  balanced. \/The  Abhiseka,  on  the  other  hand, 
takes  up  the  Eamayaiia  story  at  the  point  of  the  slaying  of  Valin 
and  consecration  of  Sugriva,  and  supplies,  in  six    acts,   the   epi- 
sodes omitted  in  the  other  play,  ending  with   the  ordeal   of   S'itfl 
and  the  consecration  of  Kama.     The  play  is   perhaps   so   named 
because  it  begins  and  ends  with  a  consecration/    But  there  is  not 
much  dramatic  unity  of  purpose  behind  the  devious   range  of  epic 
incidents.     Its  main  feature  is  the  sympathetic  characterisation  of 
Valin  and  Eavana,  but  the  other  figures  are  of  much  less  interest. 
Eama  is  directly  identified  with  Visnu  ;  but  he  is   here,    more  or 
less,  a. ruthless  warrior,  of  whose  treacherous  slaying  of  Valin  no 
'convincing  explanation  is  offered.     In    crossing   the   ocean,    the 
miracle  of    divided     waters     is   repeated   from    the   episode   of 
Vasudeva's  crossing  the   Yamuna  in   the    Bala-carita.     Even  if 
the  Abhiseka   is   not  a   dreary   summary  of   the   corresponding 
parts  of  the  Epic,   it   contains   a   series  of  situations     rather 
than    a    sequence    of    naturally     developed    incidents,    and    is 
distinctly  feebler  in   dramatic  character  and   quality   than    the 


The  Bala-carita  ,  in  five  acts,  is  similarly  based  upon  a 
number  of  loosely  joined  incidents  Irom  the  early  life  of  Krsna, 
but  there  are  some  features  which  are  not  found  in  the  epic  and 
Puranic  legends.1  If  they  are  inventions,  some  of  them  (such  as 
the  great  weight  of  the  baby  Krsna,  the  gushing  of  water  from 
the  sands,  or  the  incursion  of  Garuda  and  Visnu's  weapons)  are 
clumsy  and  serve  no  dramatic  purpose,  while  the  introduction  of 
Oandala  maidens  and  of  KartyayanI,  though  bizzarre,  is  scarcely 
impressive.  The  erotic  episodes  of  Krsna's  career  are  missing, 
and  the  softer  feeling  is  not  much  in  evidence.  There  is  a  great 
deal  of  killing  in  most  of  the  epic  dramas  mentioned  above,  but 
the  Bala-carita  perhaps  surpasses  them  all  in  melodramatic*  vio- 
lence and  ferocity.  There  is  the  slaying  of  the  bull-demon,  of 
the  baby-girl  hurled  on  the  stone,  as  well  as  of  the  two  prize- 
fighters and  Kamsa  himself,  rapidly  slaughtered  in  two  stanzas! 
Kamsa.  however,  is  not  an  entirely  wicked  person,  but,  as  a  fallen 
1iero,  is  represented  with  much  sympathy.  There  is,  however, 
little  unity  or  completeness  of  effect  ;  the  play  is  rather  a 
dramatisation  of  a  series  of  exciting  incidents.  As  such,  it  is  a 
drama  of  questionable  merit  ;  at  least,  it  hardly  deserves  the  high 
praise  that  has  been  showered  on  it  with  more  zeal  than  reason. 

The  Avi-maraka  depicts  the  love-adventure  of  a  prince  in 
disguise,  whom  a  curse  has  turned,  for  the  time  being,  into  an 
outcast  sheap-killer.  It  is  interesting  for  its  somewhat  refresh- 
ing, if  not  original,  plot,  based  probably  on  folk-tale,2  of  the  love 
of  an  apparent  plebeian  for  a  princess.  But  from  the  outset  it  is 
clearly  indicated  that  the  handsome  and  accomplished  youth  must 
be  other  than  what  he  seems;  and  the  suspense  is  not  skilfully 
maintained  up  to  the  unravelling  of  the  plot  at  the  end.  As  in 
the  Pratijrla,  the  Vidusaka  here  is  lively  and  interesting,  but  a 
Brahmin  companion  to  an  apparent  outcast  is  oddly  fitted.  The 
denouement  of  a  happy  marriage,  with  the  introduction  of  the 

1    On  the  Kr§na  legend  see  Winternitz  in  ZDMGt  LXXIV,  1920,  pp.  125.37. 

*    The  motifs  of  recognition  and    of  the  magic  ring  conferring  invisibility  are  cleaily 

iniDOrta.rtf.  ftlAmAnfa  stl  tliA  rtl^t     A  *~',va  A    annoronHv    f  Tt  m 

116  fiiStORY   OF   SAfctSKRtT 

celestial  busy-body,  Narada,  is  rather  lame ;  and  the  drama  is 
not  free  from  a  sentimental  and  melodramatic  atmosphere,  in 
which  the  hero  seeks  suicide  twice  and  the  heroine  once.  For 
diversion  from  excess  of  sentiment,  there  are  amusing  scenes,, 
such  as  the  dialogue  of  the  hero  with  the  nurse  and  the  small 
episode  of  the  jester  and  the  maid;  but  there  is  enough  of  over- 
strained brooding  and  one  long  monologue  in  the  course  of  the 
hero's  sentimental  burglary,  in  which  the  question  is  not  merely 
of  the  number  of  lines,  but  one  of  vital  connexion.  There  is, 
however,  no  justification  for  the  claim  that  the  Avi-maraka  is  a 
drama  of  love  primitive  in  its  expression  and  intensity. 

It  will  be  seen  that  all  these  plays  are  more  or  less  faulty, 
and  are  not  as  great  as  they  are  often  represented  to  be.  Judg- 
ment must  ultimately  pass  in  respect  of  the  Svapna  and  the 
Pratijna,  which  have  the  greater  probability,  at  least  from  the 
literary  point  of  view,  of  being  attributed  to  Bhasa.  They  also 
are  not  faultless ;  but  what  appeals  most  to  a  student  of  the 
Sanskrit  drama  in  these,  as  well  as  in  the  other  plays,  is_tb£k, 
irec  ty 

_  which    are    points  often  neglected    in    the   normal 

Sanskrit  drama  in  favour  of  poetical  excursions,  sentimental 
excesses  and  r het or '  ical _e mbej II i s h m en t.a*.  The  number  of  characters 
appearing  never  worries  our  author,  but  the  stage  is  never 
overcrowded  by  the  rich  variety ;  and,  while  most  of  the  major 
characters  are  painted  with  skill  and  delicacy,  the  minor  ones  are 
not,  normally,  neglected/  There  is  considerable  inventive 
power  ;  and  even  if  the  constructive  ability  is  not  always 
praiseworthy,  the  swift  and  smooth  progress  of  the  plot  is  seldom 
hindered  by  the  profusion  of  descriptive  and  emotional  stanzas, 
and  monostichs  are  freely  employed.  There  is  no  lack  of 
craftsmanship  in  transforming  a  legend  or  an  epic  tale  into  a 
drama,  and  daring  modifications  are  introduced,  although  it  may 
be  admitted  that  the  craftsmanship  is  not  always  admirable,  nor 
the  modifications  always  well  judged.  The  style  and  diction  are 
clear  and  forcible,  but  not  uncouth  or  inelegant;  they  have  little 


of  the  succulence  and  '  slickness  '  of  the  ornate  Kavya.  Even  a 
casual  reader  will  not  fail  to  notice  that  the  dramas  do  not 
possess  elaborate  art  and  polish  of  the  standard  type,  but  that 
there  is,  without  apparent  effort,  vigour  and  liveliness  of  a  rare 
kind.  The  plays  defy  conventional  rules,  and  even  conventional 
expression,  but  are  seldomjacking  in  dramatic  moments  and 
situations.  Perhaps  a  less  enthusiastic  judgment  would  find 
that  most  of  the  plays  are  of  a  somewhat  prosaic  cast,  and  miss 
in  them  the  fusing  and  lifting  power  of  a  poetic  imagination  ; 
but  it  would  be  unjust  to  deny  that  they  possess  movement, 
energy  and  vividness  of  action,  as  well  as  considerable  skill  of  con- 
sistent characterisation.  There  is  nothing  primitive  in  their  art, 
on  the  one  hand,  and  nothing  of  dazzling  excellence,  on  the 
other,  but  there  is  an  unadorned  distinction  and  dignity,  as  well 
as  an  assurance  of  vitality.  Even  after  deductions  are  made  from 
exaggerated  estimates,  much  remains  to  the  credit  of  the  author 
or  authors  of  the  plays.  Whether  all  the  aberrations,  weaknesses 
and  peculiarities  indicate  an  embryonic  stage  of  art,  or*  an 
altogether  different  dramatic  tradition,  or  perhaps  an  individual 
trait,  is  not  definitely  known  ;  nor  is  it  certain  that  all  or  any 
one  of  these  plays  really  belong  to  Bhasa  and  to  a  period  of 
comparative  antiquity  ;  nor,  again,  can  we  determine  the  extent 
and  nature  of  the  recast  to  which  they  were  submitted  ;  but  what 
is  still  important  to  consider  is  that  here  we  have,  at  least  in  some 
of  the  fascinating  plays  like  Svapna  and  PratijM,  a  dramatist 
or  dramatists  of  real  power,  whose  unlaboured,  but  not  forceless, 
art  makes  a  direct  and  vitally  human  appeal.  The  deficiencies 
are  patent,  and  a  critic  with  a  tender  conscience  may  feel 
inclined  to  justify  them  ;  but  they  need  not  diminish  or  obscure 
the  equally  patent  merits.  The  dramas  have  wrestled  with  and 
conquered  time  ;  and  even  if  we  cannot  historically  fit  them  in, 
they  have  an  unmistakable  dramatic,  if  not  poetic,  quality,  and 
this  would  make  them  deserve  a  place  of  their  own  in  the  history 
of  the  Sanskrit  drama. 



Of  Kalidasa's  immediate  predecessors  we  know  little,  and 
with  the  doubtful  exception  of  the  plays  ascribed  to  Bhasa,  we 
know  still  less  of  their  works.  Yet,  it  is  marvellous  that  the 
Kavya  attains  its  climax  in  him  and  a  state  of  perfection  which 
is  never  parallelled  in  its  later  history.  If  A6vagho§a  prepared 
the  way  and  created  the  new  poetry  and  drama,  he  did  not  finish 
the  creation  ;  and  the  succession  failed.  In  the  interval  of  three 
or  four  centuries  we  know  of  other  kinds  of  literary  effort,  but  we 
have  little  evidence  of  the  type  which  would  -explain  the  finished 
excellence  of  Kalidasa's  poetry.  It  must  have  been  a  time  of 
movement  and  productiveness,  and  the  employment  of  ornate 
prose  and  verse  in  the  Gupta  inscriptions  undoubtedly  indicates 
the  flourishing  of  the  Kavya  ;  but  nothing  striking  or  decisive  in 
poetry  or  drama  emerges, or  at  least  survives.  What  impresses 
us  in  Kalidasa's  works  is  their  freedom  from  immaturity,  but  this 
freedom  must  have  been  the  result  of  prolonged  and  diverse 
efforts  extending  over  a  stretch  of  time.  In  Kalidasa  we  are 
introduced  at  once  to  something  new  which  no  one  hit  upon 
before,  something  perfect  which  no  one  achieved,  something 
incomparably  great  and  enduring  for  all  time.  His  outstanding 
individual  genius  certainly  accounts  for  a  great  deal  of  this,  but 
it  appears  in  a  sudden  and  towering  glory,  without  being 
buttressed  in  its  origin  by  the  intelligible  gradation  of  lower 
eminences.  It  is,  however,  the  effect  also  of  the  tyrannical  domi- 
nance of  a  great  genius  that  it  not  only  obscures  but  often  wipes 
out  by  its  vast  and  strong  effulgence  the  lesser  lights  which 
surround  it  or  herald  its  approach. 


Of  the  predecessors  of  whom  Kalidasa  himself  speaks,   or  of 
the  contemporaries  mentioned  by   legends,    we   have   very   little 
information.     There  are  also  a  few  poets  who  have  been  confused, 
identified  or  associated  with  Kalidasa  ;  they  may  have   been   con- 
temporaries or  immediate  successors.     Most  of  these,  however,  are 
mere  names,  and  very  scanty  and  insignificant  works   have   been 
ascribed  to  them  by  older  tradition  or  by  more  modern  guess-work. 
Of  these,  the  only  sustained  w7ork  is  that   of   Pravarasena    whose 
date  is  unknown,  but  who  may  have  reigned  in  Kashmir  in   the 
5th  century  A.D.1     He  wrote  the  Setu-bandha  or  Ratana-vadha'2 
in  fifteen  cantos,  but  if  it  is  in  Prakrit,  it  is  obviously  aiodelled  on 
the  highly  artificial  Sanskrit  Kavya.     The  anthologies,3  however, 
assign  to   him   three    Sanskrit   stanzas,    but    they     are    hardly 
remarkable.     Kahlana  (ii-16)  mentions  Camlraka  or   Candaka   as 
a  composer  of  dramas  under  Tunjina  of  Kashmir;  but  of  him  and 
his  work  nothing  is  known,  excepting  small  fragments  preserved 
by  Srivara  in  his  Subhasitavali;  and  the  identity  of  this  dramatist 
with  the  Buddhist  grammarian  Candragoniin,  who  also  composed 
a  drama   (now   preserved  in  Tibetan  and  entitled   Lokananda)   is 
extremely     hypothetical.      Of     Matrgupta,     who     is     said     to 
have  been  Pravarasena's  predecessor  on    the  throne  of   Kashmir, 
and      who   may   or   may    not   be    identical    with   dramaturgist 
Matrguptacarya,4  nothing  remains  except  two  stanzas  contextually 
attributed    by   the   Kashmirian    Kahlana  in  his    Kaja-taraiigiy/i 

1  See  Peterson  in  Sbhvt  pp.  60-61.  But  Stein  in  his  translation  of  the  Raja-tar  ahgini, 
i,  pp.  66,  84  f,  would  place  Pravarasena  II  as  late  as  the  second  half  of  the  6th  century.  The 
ascription  of  the  Kauntalefoara-dautya  to  Kalidasa  by  Ksemendra  and  Bhoja  is  used  to  show 
that  Pravarasena,  as  the  Vakat-aka  ru'er  of  Kuntula,  was  a  contemporary  of  Kalidasa,  but  it 
is  only  an  unfounded  conjecture. 

8  Ed,  8.  Goldschmidt,  with  German  trs  (and  word  index  by  P.  Goldschmidt),  Strassburg 
and  London  1880,1884;  ed,  Sivadatta  and  K.  P.  Parab.  with  Skt.  comm.  of  Ramadfcsa, 
NSP,  Bombay  1895. 

3  Kus.  introd,,  pp.  64-55. 

4  8.  K.  De,  Sanskrit  Poetics,  i,  p.  32;  fragments  of  this  writer  have  been  collected  from 
citations  in  later  works  and  published  by  T.    R.  Ohintamanj    in    the  Journal    of   Oriental 

Hetearch,  Madras,  U  (1928),  pp.  118-28. 



(iii.  181,  252), 1  and  one  by  another  "Kashmirian,  Kgemendra, 
in  his  Aucitya-vicara-carca  (ad  22).  Matrgupta,  himself  a 
poet,  is  said  to  have  patronised  Mentha  or  Bhartraentha, 
whose  Hayagrlva-vadha  elicited  royal  praise  and  reward.  The 
first  stanza  of  this  work,  in  Sloka,  is  quoted  by  Ksemendra,0 
as  well  as  by  some  commentators  and  anthologists,4  but  it  is 
obviously  too  inadequate  to  give  an  idea  of  the  much  lauded 
lost  poem.  Tradition  associates  Enlidaea  also  with  Ghatakarpara 
and  Vetfilabbatta.  It  has  been  suggested  K  that  Ghatakarpara  may 
be  placed  even  earlier  than  Kalidasa  ;  but  the  laboured  composition 
of  twenty-four  stanzas,0  which  passes  under  his  name,  hardly 
deserves  much  notice.  It  reverses  the  motif  of  the  Mcgha-duta 
by  making  a  love-lorn  woman,  in  the  rainy  season,  send  a 
message  to  her  lover,  and  aims  chiefly  at  displaying  skill  in  the 
verbal  trick  of  repeated  syllables,  known  as  Yamaka,  exclusively 
using,  however,  only  one  variety  of  it,  namely,  the  terminal.  It 
employs  a  variety  of  metres,7  but  shows  little  poetic  talent.  Nor 

1  Those  are  also  giveu  as  Matrgnpba's  in  Sbhv,  nos.  3181  and  2550.  It  is  curious  that 
the  fast  stanza  is  assigned  to  Karpatika  by  Ksemendra  (Attcilya-vicara  ad  15). 

*  Kahlana,  iii.  125  f,  260*62.  The  word  mentlia  means  an  elephant-driver,  and  this  mean- 
ing is  referred  to  in  a  complimentary  verse  in  Sml  1*1.61).  The  poet  is  sometimes  called 
Hastipaka.  Mankhaka  (ii.  53)  places  Mentha  as  a  poet  in  the  same  rank  with  Bharavi, 
Subandhu,  and  Bana;  Sivasvamin  (xx.  47)  equals  him  with  Kalidasa  and  Dandin ;  while 
Rajasekbara  thinks  that  Valmiki  re-incarnated  as  Mentha  I 

3  Suvrtta-tilaka  ad  iii.  16.     The  poem  is  also   mentioned   in    Kuntaka's  Vakrokti-jivita 
(ed.  S.  K.  De,  Calcutta  1928,  p.  243),  and  in  the  Naiya-darpana  of  Eamacandra  and  Guna- 
candra  (ed.  GOS,  Baroda  1920,  p.  174). 

4  Peterson,  op.  cit  ,  pp.  92-94.  Small  fragments  are  preserved  in  Srlvara's   Subhasitavali, 
nos  203-204. 

5  H.  Jacobi,  Das  Ramdyana,  p.  125  note.    Jacobi  relies  mainly  on    the  wager  offered  by 
the  poet  at  the  close  that  he  would  carry  water  in  a  broken    pitcher    for  any  one   who   would 
surpass  him  in  the  weaving  of  Yarnakas ;  hut  the  poern  may  have  been   anonymous,   and    the 
author's  name  itself  may  have  had   a   fictitious    origin   from    the    wager  itself     The   figure 
Yamaka,  though  deprecated  by  Inandivardhana,  is    old,   being    comprehended   by    Bharata, 
and  need  not  of  itself  prove  a  late  date  for  the  poem. 

6  Ed.  Haeberlin  in  Kavya-samgraha,  p.  120  f,  which  is  reprinted  by    Jivananda  Vidya- 
sagar  in  his  Kavya  samgraha,  I,  Calcutta  1886,  p.    357-66;  ed.  with  a  Skt.  comm.  by  G.  M. 
•Durscb,  Berlin  1828,  with  German  verse  trs. 

7  Sundarl.-Vasantatilaka,    Aupacchandasika,    Rathoddhata,    Pufpitagra,  Upajati   and 
Drutavilambita,  among  which  Rathoddhala  predominates, 

IUL1DASA  121 

is  there  much  gain  if  we  accept  the  attribution  to  this  poet  of  the 
NUi-sara,1  which  is  simpler  in  diction  but  which  is  merely  a 
random  collection  of  twenty-one  moralising  stanzas,  also  com- 
posed in  a  variety  of  metres.2  Of  the  latter  type  is  also  the 
Nlti-pradipa a  of  sixteen  stanzas,  which  is  ascribed  to  Vetala- 
bhatta  ;  but  some  of  the  verses  of  this  shorter  collection  are 
indeed  fine  specimens  of  gnomic  poetry,  which  has  been  much 
assiduously  cultivated  in  Sanskrit.1 

The  doubtful  poems  of  Kalidasa,  which  comprise  some 
twenty  works  form  an  interesting  subject,  but  no  serious  or  com- 
plete study  "has  yet  been  made  of  them.  Some  of  them,  such  as 
the  elaborate  Yamaka-kfivya,  called  the  Nalodaya*  in  four  cantos, 
and  the  slight  RakMisa-kavyn1'  in  some  twenty  stanzas,  are  now 

1  FM    ITaeberlm,  op.  cit.t  p.  504  f  ;    Jivanant'U,  o/>.  ctt.,  pp.  371-80. 

2  rpijfiti,    $nrdiiiavikridita,    Rhujarigapravnta,     &loka,  Vrm<taatha\ila,     Vusantatilaka, 
Mamlakianta,  the  Sioka   piednminating.     Some  of  the  stanza^  are    fine,   but    they    recur   in 
other  works  and  collections. 

3  Ed.  Haebetlin,  op.  at.,  p.  5'2fi  f  ;  Jivnnand.i,  op.  at.,  pp.  366-72.     The  metres  used  are 
ITpajati,  \7aK;»ntatilaka,  SardiiiavikiTdiU,  Dnitaviiambita,    Vamsasthavila,  Mandakranta  and 

4  £.iriku  is  also  regarded  as  a  contemporary  of  Kalidasa.     He  cannot   be   identical    with 
Surikuka,   whom  Kahlana  mentions  as  the   author  of  the   Bhucanabhyndaya,    a  poem    now 
1<  st :  for  he  belongs  to  the  time  Ajitaplda  of    Kashmir    (about    N13-16A.D.);   see    S.  K.  De, 
Sanskrit  Poetics,  i,  p.  38.     Sarikuka  is  also  cited  in  the  Anthologies,  in    one   of    whicb   he  is 
called  son  of  Majiira   :  see  Peterscn  in  Sbhv,  p.  1'27  and  G.  P.  Quackenbos,  Poems  of  Maytira, 
pp.  TO.5'2.     Perhaps  to  this  Sankuka,  cited  as  Amtatya  ^ankuka,  is  also  attributed  a    drama, 
e  -titled    Citrotpalalambitalta   Prakarana,   from    which  a  passage    is   quoted   in    the    Natya- 
darpana  of  Ramacandra  and  Ounarandra  (p.  86). 

5  Kd.  with  the  Subodhinl  comm.  of  the  Maithila  Piajftakara-tni^ra,  and  with  introd.,  notes 
uud  trs.  in  Latin  by  P.  Beuary,  Berlin  1830;  ed.  Jngaunath    Sukla,  with  the  same    comm., 
Calcutta   1870  ;  also  ed.  W.  Yates,  with  metrical  Engl.  tra.,  Calcutta  1844.  PischeUZDMG, 
LAI,   p.  62fi)  adduces   reasons  for  ascribing  its  authorship    to   Ravideva,   son   of  Narayana 
and  author  probably  also  of  the  Rak&asa-larya.     With  this  view  R.  G.    Bbandarkar  (Report, 
1883-84,    p.    Ifi)    Agrees.     Ravideva's     date    is      unknown,  but  Peterson   (JBHAS,  XVII, 
1887,  p.  69,   note,    corrected    in    Three  Reports.   1887,  p.  20  f)   states  that  a    commentary 
on  the  Nalodoya  is  d  ited  in  Samvat  1664  =  1608  A.D.    But  A.  R.  Ramauatha  Ayyar  (  JRASt 
1925,  p.  263)  holds  that  the  author  of  the  Nalodaya  was  a  Kerala  poet,  named  Vasudeva,  son 
of  Ravi,  who  lived  in  the  court  of  Kuln«5ekhara  and  his    successor  Rama  in  the  first  half  of  the 
9th  century  (?),  and  wrote  also  another  Yamoka-k^vya,  Ymlhivthira.vijaya  (ed.  NSP,  Bombay 
1897)  and  an  unpublished  alliterative  poem  tailed  Tripura-dahana  :  see  below  under  ch.  vi. 

6  Ed.  A.  Hoefer  in  Sanskrit  Lesebuch,  Berlin  1819;  ed.  K.  P.  Parab,  NSP, Bombay  1890, 
1900;  also  in  Jivananda,  op,  cit,,  III,  pp,  343-53;  tra,  by  P.    Belloni-Pilippi  ia  GSAI,  XIX, 

16— 1848B 


definitely  known  to  be  wrongly  ascribed  ;  but  it  is  possible  that 
some  of  the  Kalidasa  Apocrypha  belongs  to  his  contemporaries 
and  followers.  A  more  serious  claim  for  Kalidasa's  authorship 
is  made  for  the  Rtu-sarrihara1  as  a  youthful  production  of  the 
poet.  It  has  been  contested,  however,  that  the  poem  may  be 
young,  but  not  with  the  youth  of  Kalidasa.  The  Indian 
tradition  on  the  question  is  uncertain  ;  for  while  it  is  popularly 
ascribed,  Mallinatha,  who  comments  on  the  other  three  poems  of 
Kalidasa,  ignores  it2 ;  and  the  artistic  conscience  of  Sanskrit 
rhetoricians  did  not  accept  it,  as  they  did  the  other  three  poems, 
for  purposes  of  illustration  of  their  rules ;  nor  is  any  citation 
from  it  found  in  the  early  anthologies. !{  The  argument  that  the 
poem  is  an  instance  of  Kalidasa's  juvenilia4  and  is,  therefore,  not 
taken  into  account  by  commentators,  anthologists  and  rhetori- 
cians, ignores  niceties  of  stylo,  and  forgets  that  the  poem  does 
not  bear  the  obvious  stigmata  of  the  novice. ft  The  Indian  literary 
sense  never  thought  it  fit  to  preserve  immaturities.  The  work  is 
hardly  immature  in  the  sense  that  it  lacks  craftsmanship,  for  its 

1906,  pp.  83  f.  It  is  sometimes  called  Buddhiuncda  ov  Yid\ad\inoda  Kavya,  a  text  of  which  ia 
published  by  D.  R.  Hacked  in  lHQt  XIII,  1936,  p.  692  f ;  see  8.  K.  De  in  1HQ,  XIV, 
pp.  17^-76.  There  is  a  poet  named  Eaksasa  or  Raksasa  Pamlita,  cited  respectively  in  Skm 
(i.  90.5)  aod  SP  (nos.  3810-11),  although  the  stanzas  in  the  anthologies  are  not  taken  from  the 
poem.  P.  K.  Gode  (Journal  of  Indian  Hist.,  XIX,  1940,  pp.  812-19)  puts  the  lower  limit  of 
the  date  of  the  Rak^asa-Jtdvya  at  1000  A.  D.  on  the  strength  of  the  date  1159  A.D.  of  a 
Jaina  commentary  on  it. 

1  Ed.  \V.  Jones,  Calcutta  1792  (reproduced  in   fasc,  hy  H.  Kreyenbor^r,  Hannover  1924) ; 
ed.  with  a  Latin  and  German    metrical    UP.   by   P.  von    Bohlec,    Leipzig  1840  ;cd.  W.  L. 
Pansikar,  \vith  the  comm.  of  Manirama,  NSP,  Bombay,  6th  ed.  1922  (1st  ed.   1906). 

2  Mallinalha  at  the  outset  of  his  commentary  on  Rag1m°t  speaks  of  only  thiee  Kavyaa  of 
Kalidasa  on  which  he  himself  comn  ents. 

3  Excepting  four  stanzas  in  Sbliv,  of    which    ncs.    1674,    1078    (=pts    vi.  16,  19)    are 
assigned  expressly  to  Kalidasa,  and  nos.  1703,  1704  (  —  fits  i.  18,  20)  are  cited  with  kayor  api. 
But  on  the  9omposite  text  of  this  anthology,  which  renders  its  tesiimor.y  doubtful,  see  S.  K.  De 
in  J  ^5,1927,  pp.  109-10. 

<  Hillebrandt,  Kalidasa,  Breslau  1921,  p.  66  f ;  Keith  in  JRAS,  1912,  pp.  1066-70,  JRAS, 
1913,  pp.  410-412,  HSLt  pp.  82-84;  J.  Nobel  in  ZDMQ,  LXVI,  1912,  pp.  275-82, 
LXXIII,  1919,  p.  194  f  and  JRAS,  1913,  pp.  401-10;  Harichand  Sastri,  I/Art  potti^e  de 
Vlnde  (Paris  1917),  pp.  24042. 

5  B,  B.  Johnston,  introd,  to  Buddha-carita,  p.  Ixxxi. 

kALIDASA  123 

descriptions  are  properly   mannered   and   conventional,    even    if 
they  show  some  freshness  of  observation  and  feeling  for  nature  ; 
its  peculiarities  and  weaknesses  are  such  as  show  inferior  literary 
talent,  and  not  a  mere  primitive  or  undeveloped  sense  of  style.1  It 
has  been  urged  that   Vatsabhatti   in   his   Mandasor    inscription 
borrows  expressions  and  exploits  two  stanzas  of  the  Rtu-samhara. 
The  indebtedness  is  much  exaggerated,2  but  even  if  it  is  accepted, 
it  only  shows  the  antiquity   of   the   poem,    and   not    Kalidasa's 
authorship.     If  echoes  of  Kalidcisa's  phrases  and  ideas  are   trace- 
able (e.g.  ii.  10),  they  are  sporadic  and    indicative   of   imitation, 
for  there  is  nowhere  any  suggestion  of  Kalidasa  as  a  whole.8  The 
poem  is,  of  course,  not  altogether   devoid  of  merit ;    otherwise 
there  would  not  have  been  so  much  controversy.     It  is  not  a  bare 
description,  in  six  cantos,  of  the  details  of  the  six  Indian  seasons, 
nor  even  a  Shepherd's  Calender,  but, a  highly  cultured  picture  of 
the  seasons  viewed  through  the  eyes  of  a  lover.     In  a  sense  it  has 
the  same  motif  as  is  seen  in  the  first  part  of  the  Megha-duta ;  but 
the  treatment  is  different,  and  there  is  no  community  of  character 
between  the  two  poems.     It  strings  together  rather   conventional 
pictures  of  kissing  clouds,  embracing  creepers,  the  wildly  rushing 
streams  and  other  tokens  of  metaphorical  amorousness  in  nature, 
as  well  as  the  effect  and  significance  of  the  different   seasons   for 
the  lover.     It  shows  Hashes  of  effective  phrasing,  an  easy  flow  of 
verse  and  sense  of  rhythm,  and   a    diction   free   from    elaborate 
complications,  but  the  rather  stereotyped  descriptions   lack   rich- 
ness of  content  and  they  are  not  blended  sufficiently  with  human 

1  This  would  rather  rule  out  the  suggestion  that  inasmuch  as  it  shares   some  of    Aeva- 
ghosa'*  weaknesses,  it  is  a  half -way  house  between  A6vaghos.a  and  Kalidasa. 

2  Cf.  G.  K,  Nandargikar,  Kumaradasa,  Poona  1908,  p.  xxvi,  note. 

3  Very  pertinently  Keiih  calls  attention  to  Kalidasa's  picture  of  spring  in  Kumdra0  iii  and 
Raghu*  ix,  and  of  summer  in  Raghu0  xvi  (10  which  scattered  passages  from  the  di  aortas  can  also 
be  added);  but  the  conclusion  he  draws  that  they  respectively  show  the*(leveloped  and  undeve- 
loped style  of  the  same  poet  is  a  matter   of.  personal   preference    rather   than    of    literary 


Unlike  later  Sanskrit  poets,  who  are  often  confident  self- 
puffers,  Kaliclasa  expresses  modesty  and  speaks  little  of  himself. 
The  current  Indian  anecdotes  about  him  are  extremely  stupid, 
and  show  that  no  clear  memory  remained  of  him.  He  is  one 
of  the  great  poets  who  live  and  reveal  themselves  only  in 
their  works.  His  date,  and  even  approximate  time,  is  at 
worst  uncertain,  at  best  conjectural.  His  works  have  been 
ransacked  for  clues,  but  not  very  successfully  ;  but  since 
they  bear  general  testimony  to  a  period  of  culture,  ease  and 
prosperity,  they  have  been  associated  with  the  various  great 
moments  of  the  Gupta  power  and  glory.  The  hypotheses  and 
controversies  on  the  subject  need  not  occupy  us  here, 1  for 
none  of  the  theories  are  final,  and  without  further  and  more 
definite  material,  no  convincing  conclusion  is  attainable. 
Let  it  suffice  to  say  that  vsinee  Kalidasa  is  mentioned  as  a 
poet  of  great  reputation  in  the  Aihole  inscription  of  034 
A.I).,  and  since  he.  probably  knows  Asvagbosa's  works  and 
shows  a  much  more  developed  form  and  sense  of  style  (a 
position  which,  however,  has  not  gone  unchallenged), "  the 
limits  oi  his  time  are  broadly  fixed  between  the  2nd  and  the 
Oth  century  A.D.  Since  his  works  reveal  the  author  as  a 
man  of  culture  juid  urbanity,  a  leisured  artist  probably 
enjoying,  as  the  legends  any,  royal  patronage  under  a 

1  The    literature  on  the  subject,  which  i»  tliscuBseu1    tbtfadbarc    without   yielding   am 
definite  result,  is  bulky  and  still  growing.     The  various  views,  however,   will  he   found  in    the 
following  :  G   Huth,    Die  Zeit  dex  Kalidaw  Idiss.),  Berlin  J890;  B   Liebich,  Duv  Datum  des 
Cundruyomin's  und  Kalidtisa's,  Breslau  1003,   p.  28,  an  I  in  Indoycrni.  FonchungcntXXXl, 
1912-13,  p.  198  f;  A.  Gawronski,  The   Diyvijaya  o/   Raghn,    Krakau    1914-15;    Hillebrandt, 
Kalidasa,  Breslau  1921;  Pathak  in  JBRAS,  XTX,  1895,  pp   35-43  and  int-od.  to  Meghn-duta  ; 
Koith  in  J RAS,  1901,  p.  578,   1905,  p.  575,   1909,  p.    433,  Ind.   Office  Cat.,  Vol.   2,  pt.    ii, 
p.  1201,  SD,  p.  143f ;  also  references  cited  in  Winternitz,  Jf/LJII,  p.  40  f.     P.  W.  Thomas, 
in  JRASt  1918,  pp.  118-22,  makea  an  attempt  to  revive  the  Dinnaga  legend 

2  See    Nandurgikar,  introd.  to    Raghu9 ;   Kshetrcsh    Chattopadhyay     in     Allahabad 
Univ.    Studies,    IT,*  p.  80  f;   K    G.    Sankar    in    IHQ,  I,  p    312  f     To  argue  that  A6va- 
gbost  is  later  than  Kalidasa  is    to    preaurne,    without    t-ufficiei.t  reason,  a  retrogressive 
phase  in  literary  evolution.  • 


Vikraixmditya, 1  it  is  not  unnatural  to  associate  him  with 
Candragupta  II  (cir.  380-413  A.D.),  who  had  the  style  of 
Vikramaditya,  and  whose  times  were  those  of  prosperity  and 
power.  The  various  arguments,  literary  and  historical,  by 
which  the  position  is  reached,  are  not  invulnerable  when 
they  are  taken  in  detail,  but  their  cumulative  effect  cannot 
be  ignored.  We  neither  know,  nor  shall  perhaps  ever  know, 
if  any  of  the  brilliant  conjectures  is  correct,  but  in  the 
present  state  of  our  knowledge,  it  would  not  be  altogether 
unjustifiable  to  place  him  roughly  at  400  A.D.  it  is  not 
unimportant  to  know  that  Kalidasa  shared  the  glorious  and 
varied  living  and  learning  of  a  great  time  ;  but  he  might  not 
have  done  this,  and  yet  be  the  foremost  poet  of  Sanskrit 
literature.  That  he  had  a  wide  acquaintance  with  the  life 
and  scenes  of  many  parts  of  India,  but  had  a  partiality  for 
Ujjayini,  may  be  granted  ;  but  it  would  perhaps  be  hazard- 
ous, and  even  unnecessary,  to  connect  him  with  any 
particular  geographical  setting  or  historical  environment. 

Kfilidasa's  works  are  not  only  singularly  devoid  of  all 
direct  personal  reference,  but  .they  hardly  show  his  poetic 
genius  growing  and  settling  itself  in  a  gradual  grasp  of 
power.  Very  few  poets  have  shown  a  greater  lack  of  ordered 
development.  Each  of  his  works,  including  his  dramas,  has 
its  distinctive  characteristics  in  matter  and  manner ;  it  is 
hardly  a  question  of  younger  or  older,  better  or  worse,  but 
of  difference  of  character  and  quality,  of  conception  and 
execution.  All  efforts,2  therefore,  to  arrive  at  a  relative 

1  8.  P.    Pandit    (Preface    to    liagliu*)    admits     this,     but     believes    that     there  is 
nothing    in  Kalidasa's   works   that  renders   untenable  (he  tradition  whMi  assigns   him  to 
the   age  of   the   Vikramaditya    of  the   Samvat  era,    i.e.,  to  the  first  century  B.  C.     The 
view  baa    been     developed    in    some    recent    writings,    but  the     arguments    are   hardly 

2  Huth  attempts   to  ascertain   a  relative  chronology    on   the   basis  of   metres,  but 
Kalidasa  is  too  finished   a  metrist  to  render  any  conclusion  probable  on  metrical  evidence 
alooe;   see    Keith's     effective    criticism     in   SD,   p.    167.     That     Kumara*    and     Megka* 
are  both  redolent  of   love  and  youth   and    Raghu*    is  mature   and  meditative,   is  not   a 


chronology  of  his  writings  have  not  proved  very  successful, 
and  it  is  not  necessary  to  indulge  in  pure  guess-work  and 
express  a  dogmatic  opinion. 

The  Kumara-sambhava1  is  regarded  as  one  of  Kalidasa's 
early, works,  but  it  is  in  its  own  way  as  admirably  conceived 
and  expressed  as  his  other  poems.  To  the  extent  to  which 
it  has  survived,  it  does  not,  however,  complete  its  theme, — a 
defect  which  it  shares  with  the  Raghu-vam£a9  also  apparently 
left  incomplete.  The  genuineness  of  the  first  seven  cantos 
of.  the  Kumara-sambhava  is  beyond  doubt ;  but  it  brings  the 
narrative  down  to  the  marriage  of  Siva  and  Parvati,  and  the 
promise  of  the  title,  regarding  the  birth  of  the  Kumara,  is  not 
fulfilled.  Probably  canto  viii  is  also  genuine  ;  along  with  the 
first  seven  cantos,  it  is  commented  upon  by  Mallinatha  and 
Arunagiri,  and  is  known  to  writers  on  Poetics,  who  somewhat 
squeamishly  censure  its  taste  iu  depicting  the  love-sports  of 
adored  deities  ; 2  it  also  possesses  Kfilidasa's  characteristic  style 
and  diction.  The  same  remarks,  however,  do  not  apply  to 
the. rest  of  the  poem  (ix-xvii)  as  we  have  it  now.  These 

criterion  of  sufficiently  decisive  character.  The  dramas  also  differ  in  quality  and 
character  of  workmanship,  but  it  is  pure  conjecture  lo  infer  from  this  fact  their  earlineea 
or  lateness.  Similar  remarks  apply  to  the  elaborate  attempt  of  R.  D.  Earmarkar  in 
Proc.  Second  Orient.  Conference,  Calcutta  1928,  pp.  239-47.  It  must  be  said  that  the 
theories  are  plausible;  but  their  very  divergence  from  one  another  shows  that  the 
question  is  incapable  of  exact  determination. 

1  Ed.  A.  F.  Stenzler,  with  Latin  trs.  (i-vii,   London   1838) ;  ed.   T.  Ganapati   Saatri, 
with  comm.  of  Arunagiri  ind  Narayana  li-viii),  Trivandrutn  Skt.  Ser.  1913-14.  cantos  viii-xvii 
first  published  in    Pandit,  Old   Series,  MI,   by   Vitthala   Sastri,    1866.     Also  ed.    N.    B. 
Parvanikar,  K.  P.  Paraband  W.  L.  Pansikar,  with  oornm.  of  Mallinatha  (i-viii)  and  Sitarama 
(ix-xvii\  MSP,  5th  ed.,  Bombay  1908  (10th  ed.  1927);  ed.  with  comrn.  of  Mallinatha,  Caritra- 
vardhana  and  Sitarama,  Gujrati  Printing  Press,  Bombay  1898.  Eng*  trs.  by  R.  T.  H.  Griffith, 
2nd  ed.,  London  1879.    It  has  been  translated  into  many  other  languages,  and  edited   many 
times  in  India.— The  NSP  ed.  contains  in  an  Appendix  Mai Hnatha's  comm.   on  canto   viii, 
which  is  accepted   as  genuine  in  some  South    Inlian  manuscripts  and  editions  (see  India 
Office  Cat ,  vii,  p.  1419,  no.  8764). 

2  For  a  summary    of    the    opinions,    see     Harichaud    Sistri,     Kdliddsa    et    I' Art 
pottique  de  VInde,  Paris  1917,  p.  235  f. 


cantos  probably  form  a  supplement 1  composed  by  some  later 
zealous  admirer,  who  not  only  insists  upon  the  birth  of  Kuraara 
but  also  brings  out  the  motive  of  his  birth  by  describing  his 
victory  over  the  demon  Taraka.  It  is  unbelievable  that  Kalidasa 
abruptly  left  off  his  work  ;  possibly  he  brought  it  to  a  proper 
conclusion  ;  but  it  is  idle  to  speculate  as  to  why  the  first  seven  or 
eight  cantos  only  survived.  The  fact  remains  that  the  authenti- 
city of  the  present  sequel  has  not  been  proved. 

Nevertheless,  apart  from  the  promise  of  the  title,  these 
genuine  cantos  present  a  finished  and  unified  picture  in 
itself.  The  theme  is  truly  a  daring  one  in  aspiring  to 
encompass  the  love  of  the  highest  deities ;.  but,  unlike  the 
later  Greek  poets  to  whom  the  Homeric  inspiration  was  lost, 
the  Sanskrit  poets  never  regard  their  deities  as  playthings  of 
fancy.  Apart  from  any  devotional  significance  which  may  be 
found,  but  which  Kalidasa,  as  a  poet,  never  emphasised,  the 
theme  was  a  living  reality  to  him  as  well  as  to  his  audience; 
and  its  poetic  possibilities  must  have  appealed  to  his 

1  Jacob!  in  Verhandl  d.  V  Orient.  Knngress,  Berlin  1881,  JT.  2,  pp.  133-5<>; 
Weber  in  ZDMG,  XXVTT,  p.  174  f  and  in  Jnd.  Slreifen,  111,  pp.  217  f.,  211  f.  The  argu- 
ments  turn  chiefly  on  the  silence  of  the  commentators  and  rhetoricians,  and  on 
grammatical  and  stylistic  evidence,  which  need  not  be  summarised  here.  Although  the 
intrinsic  evidence  of  taste,  style  and  treatn  ent  is  at  best  an  unsafe  guide,  no  studpnl 
of  Sanskrit  literature,  alive  to  literary  niceties,  will  deny  the  obvious  inferiority  of  the 
supplement.  The  extreme  rarity  of  MSS  for  these  additional  cantos  is  also  significant ;  and 
we  know  nothing  about  the'r  source,  nor  ab  ut  the  source  of  the  commentary  of  Sltarauaa  or 
them  (the  only  notice  of  a  MS  occurring  in  E.  L.  Mitra,  Notices,  x,  no.  3289,  p.  88,.  It  must, 
however,  be  admitted  that,  though  an  inferior  production,  the  sequel  is  not  devoid  of  merit 
and  there  are  ech  es  in  it  not  only  fiorn  Kalidasa '9  works,  hut  also  lines  and  phrases  whirl 
remind  one  of  later  great  Kavya-poets.  The  cnly  citation  from  it  in  later  writings  is  the  or< 
found  in  Uj.'valadatta'a  commentary  on  the  Unddi-sntra,  (ed.  T.  Aufrecht,  Bonn  1859,  ad  iv 
C6,  p.  106),  where  the  passage  ravali  prayalbhahata  bheri-iamlhavah  ig  given  as  a  qirtatioi 
with  iti  Kumarah  (and  not  Kumare).  It  occurs  a?  a  variant  of  Kumara*  xiv.  32«  in  the  NSl 
edition  ;  but  it  is  sa»d  to  occur  also  in  Kurna«>adasa's  Janakl  harana,  which  work,  however 
is  cited  by  Ujjvdladatta  (iii.  73)  by  its  own  name  and  i  ofc  by  the  name  of  its  author.  If  thii 
is  a  genuine  quotation  from  the  sequel,  then  the  sequelmust  have  been  added  at  a  fairly  earlj 
time,  at  least  before  the  14th  century  A.D.,  unless  it  is  shown  that  the  passage  in  question  is  i 
quotation  from  Kumaradasa  and  an  appropriation  by  the  author  of  the  sequel.  The  question  v, 
re-opened  by  8.  P.  Bhattacbarya  in  Proceedings  of  the  Fifth  Orient.  Cow/.,  Vol.  I,  pp.  48-14. 


imagination.  We  do  not  know  exactly  from  what  source 1  Kalidasa 
derived  his  material,  but  we  can  infer  from  his  treatment 
of  the  Sakuntala  legend,  that  he  must  have  entirely  rehnndled 
and  reshaped  what  he  derived.  The  now  mythology  had  life, 
warmth  and  colour,  and  brought  the  gods  nearer  to  human  life 
and  emotion.  The  magnificent  figure  of  the  divine  ascetic, 
scorning  love  but  ultimately  yielding  to  its  humanising  influence, 
the  myth  of  his  temptation  leading  to  the  destruction  of  Kama  as 
the  emblem  of  human  desire,  the  story  of  Uma's  resolve  to  win 
by  renunciation  what  her  beauty  and  love  could  not  achieve  by 
their  seduction,  and  the  pretty  fancy  of  the  coming  back  of  her 
lover,  not  in  his  ascetic  pride  but  in  playful  benignity, — this 
poetic,  but  neither  moralistic  nor  euhcineristic,  working  up  of  a 
scanty  Purfmic  myth  in  a  finished  form  is  perhaps  all  his  own. 
Tf  there  is  a  serious  purpose  behind  the  poem,  it  is  merged  in  its 
total  effect,  ft  is,  on  the  other  hand,  not  bare  story-telling  or 
recounting  of  a  myth;  it  is  the  careful  work  of  a  poet,  whose 
feeling,  art  and  imagination  invest  his  pictures  with  a  charming 
vividness,  which  is  at  once  finely  spiritual  and  intensely  human. 
His  poetic  powers  are  best  revealed  in  his  delineation  of  Siva's 
temptation  in  canto  iii,  where  the  mighty  effect  of  the  few  swift 
words,  describing  the  tragic  annihilation  of  the  pretty  love-god 
by  the  terrible  god  of  destruction,  is  not  marred  by  a  single 
word  of  elaboration,  but  produces  infinite  suggestiveness  by 
its  extreme  brevity  and  almost  perfect  fusion  of  sound  and 
sense.  A  fine  example  also  of  Kfilidasa's  charming  fancy  and 
gentle  humour  is  to  be  found  in  the  picture  of  the  jonng 
hermit  appearing  in  Uma's  hermitage  and  his  depreciation 
of  Siva,  which  evokes  an  angry  but  firm  rebuke  from  Umfi, 
leading  on  to  the  hermit's  revealing  himself  as  the  god  of  her 

1  The  story  is  told  in  MalialliSrnta,  iii.  225   (Bombay ed.)  and  Ramdyana  i  97, 
known  to  Agvaghoea  in  some  form,  Buddha-writa,  i,  88,  xiii,  16. 

KILiDISA  129 

The  theme  of  the  Raghu-vanifa l  is  much  more  diversified 
and  extensivef  and  gives  fuller  scope  to  Kalidasa's  artistic 
imagination.  The  work  has  a  greater  height  of  aim  and  range 
of  delivery,  but  has  no  known  predecessor.  It  is  rather  a  gallery 
of  pictures  than  a  unified  poem  ;  and  yet  out  of  these  pictures, 
which  put  the  uncertain  mass  of  old  narratives  and  traditions  into 
a  vivid  poetical  form,  Kalidasa  succeeds  in  evolving  one  of  the 
finest  specimens  of  the  Indian  Mahakavya,  which  exhibits  both 
the  diversity  and  plenitude  of  his  powers.2  Out  of  its  nineteen 
cantos  there  is  none  that  does  not  present  some  pleasing  picture, 
none  that  does  not  possess  an  interest  of  its  own  ;  and  there  is 
throughout  this  long  poem  a  fairly  uniform  excellence  of  style  and 
expression.  There  is  hardly  anything  rugged  or  unpolished  any- 
where in  Kalidasa,  and  his  works  must  have  been  responsible  for 
setting  the  high  standard  of  formal  finish  which  grew  out  of  all 
proportion  in  later  poetry.  But  he  never  sacrifices,  as  later  poets 
often  do,  the  intrinsic  interest  of  the  narrative  to  a  mere  elabora- 
tion of  the  outward  form.  There  is  invariably  a  fine  sense  of 
equipoise  and  an  astonishing  certainty  of  touch  and  taste.  In 
the  Raghu-vam£a,  Kalidasa  goes  back  to  early  legends  for  a 
theme,  but  it  is  doubtful  if  he  seriously  wishes  to  reproduce  its 
spirit  or  write  a  Heldengedicht.  The  quality  of  the  poem, 
however,  is  more  important  than  its  fidelity  to  the  roughness  of 
heroic  times  in  which  the  scene  is  laid.  Assuming  that  what  he 
2[ives  us  is  only  a  glorified  picture  of  his  own  times,  the  vital 
question  is  whether  he  has  painted  excellent  individuals  or  mere 
abstractions.  Perhaps  Kalidasa  is  prone  to  depicting  blameless 
regal  characters,  in  whom  a  little  blatneworthiness  had  better 

1  Ed.  A.  P.  Stenzler,  with  a  Latin  tra.,  London  1832;  ed.  with  the  comm.  of  Mallin&tha 
y  S.  P.  Pandit,  Bombay  Skt.  Ser.,3  vols.,  1869-74,  and  by  G.  R.  Nandargikar,  with  English 
rs.,  3rd  revised  ed.,  Bombay  1897;  ed.  with  comm.  of  Aruiiagiri  and  Narfcyana  (i-vi), 
langalodaya  Press,  Trichur,  no  date.  Often  edited  and  translated  in  parts  or  as  a  whole. 

8  The  Indian  opinion  considers  the  Raghu-va^a  to  be  Kalidasa's  greatest  poem,  so  th»t 
3  is  often  cited  as  the  Ra^hukara  par  excellence.  Its  popularity  is  attested  by  the  Caret  that 
bout  fgrty  commentaries  on  this  poem  are  Unown» 


been  blended  ;  but  if  they  are  meant  to  be  ideal,  they  are  yet 
clearly  distinguished  as  individuals  ;  and,  granting  the  environ- 
ment, they  are  far  from  ethereal  or  unnatural.  Kalidasa  intro- 
duces us  to-  an  old-world  legend  and  to  an  atmosphere  strange 
to  us  with  its  romantic  charm  ;  but  beneath  all  that  is  brilliant 
and  marvellous,  he  is  always  real  without  being  a  realist. 

The  earlier  part  of  the  Raghu-vam£a  accords  well  with  its 
title,  and  the  figure  of  Raghu  dominates,  being  supported  by  the 
episodes  of  his  father  Dilipa  and  his  son  Aja  ;  but  in  the  latter 
part  Rama  is  the  central  figure,  similarly  heralded  by  the  story 
of  DaSaratba  and  followed  by  that  of  Ku6a.  There  is  thus  a 
unity  of  design,  but  the  entire  poem  is  marked  by  a  singularly 
varied  handling  of  a  series  of  themes.  We  are  introduced  in 
first  canto  to  the  vows  and  austerities  of  the  childless  Dilipa  and 
his  queen  Sudaksina  in  tending  Vasistha's  sacred  cow  and  sub- 
mitting to  her  test,  followed  by  the  birth  of  Raghu  as  a  heavenly 
boon.  Then  we  have  the  spirited  narrative  of  young  Raghu' s 
fight  with  Indra  in  defence  of  his  father's  sacrificial  horse,  his 
accession,  his  triumphant  progress  as  a  conqueror,  and  his 
generosity  which  threatened  to  impoverish  him, — all  of  which, 
especially  his  Digvijaya,  is  described  with  picturesque  brevity, 
force  and  skill.  The  next  three  cantos  (vi-viii)  are  devoted  to 
the  more  tender  story  of  Aja  and  his  winning  of  the  princess 
IndumatI  at  the  stately  ceremonial  of  Svayarpvara,  followed, 
after  a  brief  interval  of  triumph  and  happiness,  by  her  accidental 
death,  which  leaves  Aja  disconsolate  and  broken-hearted.  The 
story  of  his  son  Da6aratha's  unfortunate  hunt,  which  follows, 
becomes  the  prelude  to  the  much  greater  narrative  of  the  joys 
and  sorrows  of  Rama. 

In  the  gallery  of  brilliant  kings  which  Kalidasa  has  painted, 
his  picture  of  Rama  is  undoubtedly  the  best ;  for  here  we  have 
realities  of  character  which  evoke  his  powers  to  the  utmost. 
He  did  not  obviously  wish  to  rival  Valmiki  on  his  own  ground, 
but  wisely  chooses  to  treat  the  story  in  his  own  way.  While 
ftalidasa  devotes  one  capto  of  nearly  a  hundred  stanzas  to  the 


romantic  possibilities  of  Rama's  youthful  career,  he  next  accom- 
plishes the  very  difficult  task  of  giving,  in  a  single  canto  of  not 
much  greater  length,  a  marvellously  rapid  but  picturesque  con- 
densation, in  Valmlki's  Sloka  metre,  of  the  almost  entire 
Rdmayana  up  to  the  end  of  Kama's  victory  over  Ravana  and 
winning  back  of  Sita.  But  the  real  pathos  of  the  story  of 
Rama's  exile,  strife  and  suffering  is  reserved  for  treatment  in  the 
next  canto,  in  which,  returning  from  Lanka,  Rama  is  made  to 
describe  to  Sita,  with  the  redbllective  tenderness  of  a  loving  heart, 
the  various  scenes  of  their  past  joys  and  sorrows  over  which  they 
pass  in  their  aerial  journey.  The  episode  is  a  poetical  study  of 
reminiscent  love,  in  which  sorrow  remembered  becomes  bliss^ 
but  it  serves  to  bring  out  Rama's  great  love  for  Sita  better  than 
mere  narration  or  description, — a  theme  which  is  varied  by  the 
pictures  of  the  memory  of  love,  in  the  presence  of  suffering, 
depicted  in  the  Megha-duta,  and  in  the  two  lamentations,  in  differ- 
ent situations,  of  Aja  and  Rati.  Rama's  passionate  clinging  to  the 
melancholy,  but  sweet,  memories  of  the  past  prepares  us  for  the 
next  canto  on  Sita's  exile,  and  heightens  by  contrast  -the  grief 
of  the  separation,  which  comes  with  a  still  more  cruel  blow  at 
the  climax  of  their  happiness.  Kalidasa's  picture  of  this  later 
history  of  Rama,  more  heroic  in  its  silent  suffering  than  the 
earlier,  has  been  rightly  praised  for  revealing  the  poet's  power  of 
pathos  at  its  best,  a  power  which  never  exaggerates  but  compress- 
es the  infinite  pity  of  the  situation  in  just  a  few  words.  The 
story  of  Rama's  son,  Kusa,  which  follows,  sinks  in  interest ;  but 
it  has  a  remarkably  poetic  description  of  Kusa's  dream,  in  which 
his  forsaken  capital  city,  Ayodhya,  appears  in  the  guise  of  a 
forlorn  woman  and  reproaches  him  for  her  fallen  state.  After 
this,  two  more  cantos  (xviii-xix)  are  added,  but  the  motive  of 
the  addition  is  not  clear.  They  contain  some  interesting  pictures, 
especially  that  of  Agnivarna  at  the  end,  and  their  authenticity 
is  not  questioned ;  but  they  present  a  somewhat  colourless  account 
of  a  series  of  unknown  and  shadowy  kings.  We  shall  never 
know  whether  Kalidasa  intended  to  bring  the  narrative  down  to 


his  own  times  and  connect  his  own  royal  patron  with  the  dynasty 
of  Eaghu  ;  but  the  poein  comes  to  an  end  rather  abruptly  in  the 
form  in  which  we  have  it.1  It  will  be  seen  from  this  brief  sketch 
that  the  theme  is  not  one,  but  many  ;  but  even  if  the  work  has 
no  real  unity,  its  large  variety  of  subjects  is  knit  together  by  the 
powers  of  colour,  form  and  music  of  a  marvellous  poetic  imagina- 
tion. Objects,  scenes,  characters,  emotions,  incidents,  thoughts — 
all  are  transmuted  and  placed  in  an  eternising  frame  and  setting 
of  poetry.  ' 

The  Megha-duta*  loosely  called  a  lyric  or  an  elegy,  is  a  much 
smaller  monody  of  a  little  over  a  hundred  stanzas 3  in  the  stately 
and  melodious  Mandakranta  metre  ;  but  it  is  no  less  characteristic 

1  The  last  voluptuous  king  Agnivarna  meets  with  a  premature  death;  but  he  is  not 
childless ;  one  of  the  queens  with  a  posthumous  child  is  said  to  have  succeeded.  The  Puranns 
speak  at  least  of  twenty-seven  kings  who  came  after  Agnivarna,  and  there  is  no  reason  why 
the  poem  should  end  here  suddenly,  but  not  naturally  (see  S.  P.  Pandit,  Preface,  p.  15  f. 
Hillebrandt,  Kalidasa,  p.  42  f.).  It  has  been  urged  that  the  poet's  object  is  to 
suggest  a  moral  on  the  inglorious  end  of  a  glorious  line  by  depicting  the  depth  to  which 
the  descendants  of  the  mighty  Eaghu  sink  in  a  debauched  king  like  Agnivarna,  who  cannot 
tear  himself  from  the  caresses  of  his  women,  and  who,  when  his  loyal  subjects  and  ministers 
want  to  have  a  sight  of  him,  puts  out  his  bare  feet  through  the  window  for  them  to  worship  1 
Even  admitting  this  as  a  not  unnatural  conclusion  of  the  poem,  the  abrupt  ending  is  still 
inexplicable. — C.  Eunhan  Raja  (Annals  of  Orient.  Research,  Univ.  of  Madras,  Vol.  V,  pt.  2, 
pp.  17-40)  even  ventures  to  question  the  authenticity  of  the  entire  second  half  of  the  Raghu0, 
starting  with  the  story  of  Dadaratba ;  but  his  reasons  are  not  convincing. 

8  The  editions,  as  well  as  translations  in  various  languages,  are  numerous.  The 
earliest  editions  are  those  of  H.  H.  Wilson  (116  stanzas)  with  metrical  Eng.  trs.,  Calcutta 
1813  (2nd  ed.  1843) ;  of  J.  Gildemeister,  Bonn  1841 ;  of  A.  F.  Stenzler,  Breslau  1874.  The  chief 
Indian  and  European  editions  with  different  commentaries  are  :  With  Vallabhadeva's  eomrn., 
ed.  E.  Hultzsch,  London  1911;  with  Mallinatha's  c^rnm.,  ed.  K.  P.  Parab,  NSP,  4th  ed., 
Bombay  1881,  G.  R.  Nandargikar,  Bombay  1894,  and  K.  B.  Pathak,  Poona  1894  (2nd 
ed.  1916)  (both  with  Eng.  trs.);  with  Daksinavartanatha's  comra.,  ed.  T.  Ganapati  Sastri, 
Trivandrum  1919;  with  Purna-sarasvati'scomm.,  ed.  K.  V.  Krishnamachariar,  Srivanl-Vilasa 
Press,  Sri  ran  gam  1900 ;  with  comm.  of  Mallinatba  and  Caritravardhana,  ed.  Narayan  Sastri 
Khiste,  Chowkhamba  Skt.  Ser.,  Benares  1981.  English  trs.  by  Col  Jacob,  Poooa  1870.  For 
an  appreciation,  see  H.  Oldenberg,  op.  cit  ,  p.  217  f.  The  popularity  aud  currency  of  the 
work  are  shown  by  the  existence  of  sonce  fifty  commentaries. 

3  The  great  popularity  of  the  poem  paid  the  penalty  of  interpolations,  and  the  total 
number  of  stanzas  vary  in  different  versions,  thus  :  as  preserved  in  Jinasena's  Pars'va- 
bhyudaya  (latter  part  of  the  8th  century)  120,  Vallabhsdeva  (10th  century^  111,  Daksina- 
vartanatha  (c.  1200)  110,  Mallinatha  (14th  century)  121,  Purnasarasvatl  110,  Tibetan 
Tersion  117,  Panabokke  (Ceylonese  version)  118.  A  concordance  is  given  in  Hultzscb,  as  well 
as  a  list  of  spurious  stanzas.— On  text-criticism^  bee  in  trod,  to  eds.  of  Stenzler,  Patbak 


of  the   vitality    and    versatility    of  Kalidasa's   poetic  powers. 
The  theme  is  simple   enough   in  describing  the   severance  and 
yearnings  of  an  imaginary  Yaksa   from   his   beloved   through  a 
curse ;  but  the  selection  of  the  friendly  cloud    as  the  bearer   of 
the  Yaksa's  message  from  Raraagiri   to   Alaka  is   a   novel,   and 
somewhat  unreal,  device,1   for  which  the  almost  demented   condi- 
tion  of  the   sorrowful  Yaksa  is   offered   as   an   apology  by   the 
poet  himself.     It  is  perhaps  a  highly   poetical,   but   not   an   un- 
natural, personification,  when  one  bears  in  mind  the    noble  mass 
of  Indian  monsoon  clouds,  which  seem  almost  instinct   with   life 
when  they  travel  from  the  southern   tropical   sky  to  the   snows 
of  the  Himalayas ;   but  the  unreality  of  the  poem   does   not   end 
there.     It  has  been  urged  that  the  temporary  character  of  a   very 
brief  separation  and  the  absolute  certainty  of  reunion  make  the 
display  of  grief   unmanly  and   its   pathos   unreal.     Perhaps  the 
sense  of  irrevocable  loss  would  have  made  the  motif   more  effect- 
ive ;   the  trivial  setting  gives  an  appearance  of  sentimentality    to 
the  real  sentiment  of  the  poem.    The  device  of   a  curse,   again^ 
in  bringing  about  the  separation — a  motif  which  is   repeated   in 
another  form  in  the  AbhijMna-£akuntala — is  also   criticised;   for 
the  breach  here  is  caused  not  by  psychological   complications,    so 
dear  to  .modern  times.     But  the  predominantly  fanciful  character 
of  Sanskrit  poetry  recognises  not  only  this  as  a  legitimate  means, 
but  even  departure  on  a  journey, — on  business  as  we  should  say 
to-day ;  and  even  homesickness  brings  a  flood  of  tears   to   the 
eyes  of  grown-up  men  and  women ! 

and  Hultzscb  ;  J.  Hertel's  review  of  Hultzscli's  ed.  in  Gdlting.  Gelehrie  Anzeigen,  1912; 
Macdonell  in  JRAS,  1913,  p.  176  f. ;  Harichand,  op.  cit.t  p.  238  f. ;  Herman  Beckh,  Bin 
Beitrag  zur  Textkritik  von  Kalidasa's  Meghaduta  (Bias.),  Berlin  1907  (chiefly  on  the 
Tibetan  version).  A  Sinhalese  paraphrase  with  Eng.  trs.  published  by  the  T.  B.  Pdnabokke, 
Colombo  1888. 

1  Bhamaha  (i.  42)  actually  considers  this  to  be  a  defect.  The  idea  of  sending  message 
may  have  been  suggested  by  the  embassy  of  Hanuraat  in  the  Rdmayana  (of.  st.  104,  Pathak*s 
ed.),  or  of  the  Swan  in  the  story  of  Nala  in  the  Maliablulrata.  Of.  also  Kamavilapa  J&taka 
(no.  297),  where  a  crow  is  sent  as  a  messenger  by  a  man  in  danger  to  his  wife.  But  the 
treatment  is  Kalid&sa's  own. 


It  is,  however,  not  necessary  to  exaggerate  the  artistic  insuffi- 
ciency of  the  device  ;  for,  the  attitude  is  different,  but  not  the  sense 
of  sorrow.  If  we  leave  aside  the  setting,  the  poem  gives  a  true  and 
poignant  picture  of  the  sorrow  of  parted  lovers,  and  in  this  lies  its 
real  pathos.  It  is  true  that  the  poem  is  invested  with  a  highly 
imaginative  atmosphere ;  it  speaks  of  a  dreamland  of  fancy,  its 
characters  are  semi-divine  beings,  and  its  imagery  is  accordingly 
adapted ;  but  all  this  does  not  negate  its  very  human  and 
genuine  expression  of  the  erotic  sentiment.  Its  vividness  of 
touch  has  led  people  even  to  imagine  that  it  gives  a  poetic  form 
to  the  poet's  own  personal  experience ;  but  of  •this,  onfe  can  never 
be  sure.  There  is  little  of  subjectivity  in  its  finished  artistic 
execution,  and  the  lyric  mood  does  not  predominate  ;  but  the 
unmistakable  warmth  of  its  rich  and  earnest  feeling,  expressed 
through  the  melody  and  dignity  of  its  happily  fitting  metre, 
redeems  the  banality  of  the  theme  and  makes  the  poem  almost 
lyrical  in  its  effect.  The  feeling,  however,  is  not  isolated,  but 
blended  picturesquely  with  a  great  deal  of  descriptive  matter. 
Its  intensity  of  recollective  tenderness  is  set  in  the  midst  of  the 
Indian  rainy  season,  than  which,  as  Rabindranath  rightly 
remarks,  nothing  is  more  appropriate  for  am  atmosphere  of 
loneliness  and  longing ;  it  is  placed  also  in  the  midst  of  splendid 
natural  scenery  which  enhances  its  poignant  appeal.  The 
description  of  external  nature  in  the  first  half  of  the  poem  is 
heightened  throughout  by  an  intimate  association  with  human 
feeling,  while  the  picture  of  the  lover's  sorrowing  heart  in  the 
second  half  is  skilfully  framed  in  the  surrounding  beauty  of 
nature.  A  large  number  of  attempts1  were  made  in  later  times  to 
imitate  the  poem,  but  the  Megha-duta  still  remains  unsurpassed 
as  a  masterpiece  of  its  kind,  not  for  its  matter,  nor  for  its  des- 
cription, but  purely  for  its  poetry. 

Kalidasa's  deep-rooted  fame  as  a  poet  somewhat  obscures  his 
merit  as  a  dramatist;  but  prodigal  of  gifts  nature  had  been  to 
him,  and  his  achievement  in  the  dra$a  is  no  less  striking.  In 

judgment  of  many,    his  Abhifflna*£akuntala  remains  his 

!    On  the  DaU-kavyas,  see  Chintahwan  Chakravarbi  in  IHQ,  III,  pp.  978-97. 

KiUDISA  135 

greatest  work;  at  the  very  least,   it  is  considered  to  be  the   full- 
blown flower  of  his  genius.     Whatever  value  the  judgment  may 
possess,  it  implies  that  in  this  work  we  have  a  unique  alliance  of 
his  poetic  and  dramatic  gifts,  which  are  indeed  not  contradictory 
but  complementary ;  and  this  fact  should  be  recognised  in  passing 
from  his  poems  to  his  plays.     His  poems  give  some  evidence    of 
skilful  handling  of  dramatic  moments  and  situations;    but    his 
poetic  gifts  invest  his  dramas  with  an  imaginative  quality  which 
prevents  them  from  being  mere  practical  productions    of    stager 
craft.    It  is  not  implied  that  his   dramas    do    not    possess    the 
requisite  qualities  of  a  stage-play,  for  his  Sakuntala  has  been  of  ten 
successfully  staged  ;  but  this  is  not  the  only,  much  less  the  chief, 
point  of  view  from  which  his  dramatic  works    are  to  be    judged, 
i  lays  often  fail,  not  for  want  of  dramatic  power  or  stage-qualities, 
but  for    want  of  poetry ;   they   are    often  too   prosaic.     It    is 
very  seldom  that  both    the  dramatic  and    poetic    qualities  are 
united  in  the  same  author.     As   a    dramatist  Kalidasa  succeeds, 
mainly  by  his  poetic   power,  in  two  respects  :   he  is  a  master    of 
poetic  emotion  which   he  can  skilfully  harmonise  with  character 
and  action,  and  he  has  the  poetic  sense  of  balance  and  restraint 
which  a  dramatist  must   show  if  he  would  win  success. 

It  is  significant  that  in  the  choice  of  theme,  character  and 
situation,  Kalidasa  follows  the  essentially  poetic  bent  of  his 
genius.  'Love  in  its  different  aspects  and  situations  is  the 
dominant  theme  of  all  his  three  plays,  care-free  love  in  the 
setting  of  a  courtly  intrigue,  impetuous  love  as  a  romantic  and 
undisciplined  passion  leading  to  madness,  and  youthful  love,  at 
first  heedless  but  gradually  purified  by  suffering.  In  the  lyrical 
and  narrative  poem  the  passionate  feeling  is  often  an  end  in  itself, 
elegant  but  isolated ;  in  the  drama,  there  is  a  progressive  deepening 
of  the  emotional  experience  as  a  factor  of  larger  life.  It,  therefore, 
affords  the  poet,  as  a  dramatist,  an  opportunity  of  depicting  its 
subtle  moods  and  fancies  in  varied  circumstances,  its  infinite  range 
and  intensity  in  closeness  to  common  realities.  His  mastery  of 
humour  and  p^thos^  his  wisdom  apd  humanity,  come  into  play  | 


and  his  great  love  of  life  and  sense  of  tears  in  mortal  things  inform 
his  pictures  with  all  the  warmth  and  colour  of  a  vivid  poetic 

The  Malavikagniinitra1  is  often  taken  to  be  one  of  Kalidasa's 
youthful  productions,  but  there  is  no  adequate  reason  for  thinking 
that  it  is  his  first  drjamatic  work.  The  modesty  shown  in  the 
Prologue  2  repeats  itself  in  those  of  his  other  two  dramas,  and 
the  immaturity  which  critics  have  seen  in  it  is  more  a  question 
of  personal  opinion  than  a  real  fact ;  for  it  resolves  itself  into  a 
difference  of  form  and  theme,  rather  than  any  real  deficiency  of . 
power.  8  The  Malavika  is  not  a  love-drama  of  the  type  of  the 
Svapna-vasavadatta,  to  which  it  has  a  superficial  resemblance, 
Ibut  which  possesses  a  far  more  serious  interest.  It  is  a  light- 
hearted  comedy  of  court-life  in  five  acts,  in  which  love  is  a  pretty 
game,  and  in  which  the  hero  need  not  be  of  heroic  proportion, 
nor  the  heroine  anything  but  a  charming  and  attractive  maiden. 
The  pity  of  the  situation,  no  doubt,  arises  from  the  fact  that 
the  game  of  sentimental  philandering  is  often  played  at  the 
expense  of  others  who  are  not  in  it,  but  that  is  only  an  inevitable 
incident  of  the  game.  The  motif  of  the  progress  of  a  courtly 
love-intrigue  through  hindrances  to  royal  desire  for  a  lowly 
maiden  and  its  denouement  in  the  ultimate  discovery  of  her 
status  as  a  princess  was  perhaps  not  as  banal  in  Kalidasa's 

1  Ed-  F.  Bollensen,  Leipzig  1879;  ed.  8.  P.  Pandit,  with  comm.  of  Katayavema 
(c.  1400  A.D.),  Bombay  Sanak.  Ser  ,  2nd  ed..  1889,  and  by  K.  P.  Parab,  NSP,  Bombay  1915. 
Tra.  into  Englisb  by  C.  H.  Tswney,  Calcutta  1875  and  London  1891 ;  into  German  by  Weber, 
Berlin  1856 ;  into  French  by  V.  Henry,  Paris  1889.  On  Text-criticism  see  C.  Cappeller,  Observa* 
tiones  ad  Kdlidasae  Malavikagnimiiram  (Diss  ),Regimonti  1868;  F.  Haag,  Zur  Textkritik  und 
Erkllrung  von  Kalid&xas  Malavikagnimitra,  Frauenfeld  1872 ;  Bollensen  in  ZDMG,  XIII, 
1859,  p.  480  f;  Weber  in  ibid.,  XIV,  1860,  p.  261  f ;  Jackson  in  JAOS,  XX,  p.  343  f  (Titne- 
analysis).  For  fuller  bibliography  see  Sten  Konow,  op.  c/t.»  p.  63. 

1  If  tbe  work  is  called  nava,  with  a  reference  to  far-famed  predecessors,  the  same 
word  is  used  to  designate  bis  Abhijflana-6aktin1a1a,  which  also  modestly  seeks  the  satisfaction 
of  the  learned  as  a  final  test ;  and  his  Vikramorva&ya  is  spoken  of  in  the  same  way  in  the 
Prologue  as  apurva,  with  reference  to  former  poets  (purva  kavi).  In  a  sense,  all  plays  are 
nava  and  apurva,  and  no  valid  inference  1s  possible  from  such  descriptions. 

8  Wilson's  unfounded  doubt  about  the  authorship  of  the  play  led  to  its  comparative 
neglect,  but  Weber  and  8.  P.  Pandit  effectively  set  the  doubt*  at  rest,  For  a  warm  eulogy, 
fee  V.  IJenry,  l^es  Literatures  del9  Inde,  p.  305  f,  " 

K1LIDISA  137 

time  1  as  we  are  wont  to  think;  but  the  real  question  is  how  the 
therne  is  handled.  Neither  Agnimitra  nor  Malavika  may  appear 
impressive,  but  they  are  appropriate  to  the  atmosphere.  The 
former  is  a  care-free  and  courteous  gentleman,  on  whom  the 
burden  of  kingly  responsibility  sits  but  lightly,  who  is  no  longer 
young  but  no  less  ardent,  who  is  an  ideal  Daksina  Nayaka 
possessing  a  groat  capacity  for  falling  in  and  out  of  love  ;  while 
the  latter  is  a  faintly  drawn  ingenue  with  nothing  but  good  looks 
and  willingness  to  be  loved  by  the  incorrigible  king-lover. 
The  Vidusaka  is  a  more  lively  character,  who  takes  a  greater- 
part  in  the  development  of  the  plot  in  this  play  than  in  the 
other  dramas  of  Kalidasa.  The  interest  of  the  theme  is  enhanced 
by  the  complications  of  the  passionate  impetuousity  and  jealousy 
of  the  young  discarded  queen  Travail,  which  is  finely  shown  off 
against  the  pathetic  dignity  and  magnanimity  of  the  elderly  chief 
queen  Pharinl.  Perhaps  the  tone  and  tenor  of  the  play  did 
not  permit  a  more  serious  development  of  this  aspect  of  the  plot, 
but  it  should  not  be  regarded  as  a  deficiency.  The  characterisa- 
tion is  sharp  and  clear,  and  the  expression  polished,  elegant 
and  .even  dainty.  The  wit  and  elaborate  compliments,  the 
toying  and  trifling  with  the  tender  passion,  the  sentimental- 
ities arid  absence  of  deep  feeling  are  in  perfect  keeping  with 
the  outlook  of  the  gay  circle,  which  is  not  used  to  any  profounder 
view  of  life.  2  One  need  not  wonder,  therefore,  that  while  war 
is  in  progress  in  the  kingdom,  the  royal  household  is  astir  with 
the  amorous  escapades  of  the  somewhat  elderly,  but  youthfully 
inclined,  king.  Gallantry  is  undoubtedly  the  keynote  of  the 
play,  and  its  joys  and  sorrows  should  not  be  reckoned  at  a  higher 
level.  Judged  by  its  own  standard,  there  is  nothing  immature, 
clumsy  or  turgid  in  the  drama.  If  Kalidasa  did  not  actually 

1  The  source  of  the  story  is  not  known,  but  it  is  clear  that  Kalidasa  owes  nothing  to 
the  Puranic  stories.  As  at.  2  shows,  accounts  of  Agnimitra  were  probably  current  and  available 
to  the  poet. 

*  K.  K.  Pisbaroti  in  Journal  of  the  Annamaki  Univ.,  II,  no.  2,  p.  193  f.,  is  inclined  to 
take  the  play  as  a  veiled  satire  on  some  royal  family  of  the  time,  if  not  on  Agnimitra  himself, 
and  would  think  that  the  weakness  of  the  opening  scene  is  deliberate. 



originate  the  type,  he  must  have  so  stamped  it  with  the  impress 
of  bis  genius  that  it  was,  as  the  dramas  of  Harsa  and  Raja^ekhara 
show,  adopted  as  one  of  the  appealing  modes  of  dramatic 
expression  and  became  banalised  in  course  of  time. 

j,  In  the  Vikramorvasiya,  1  on  the  other  hand,  there  is  a  decided 
weakness  in  general  treatment.  The  romantic  story  of  the  love 
of  the  mortal  king  Pururavas  and  the  divine  nymph  Urva£I  is 
old,  the  earliest  version  occurring  in  the  Rgveda  x.  95 ;  but  the 
passion  and  pathos,  as  well  as  the  logically  tragic  ending,  of  the 
ancient ,  legend  2  is  changed,  in  five  acts,  into  an  unconvincing 
story  of  semi-courtly  life  with  a  weak  denouement  of  domestic 
union  and  felicity,  brought  about  by  the  intervention  of  a 
magic  stone  and  the  grace  of  Indra.  The  fierce-souled  spouse, 
la  belle  dame  sans  merci  of  the  Rgveda,  is  transformed  into 
a  passionate  but  selfish  woman,  an  elevated  type  of  the 
heavenly  courtesan,  and  later  on,  into  a  happy  and  obe- 
dient wife.  The  modifying  hand  of  folk-tale  and  comedy  of 
courtly  life  is  obvious ;  and  some  strange  incidents  and  situa- 
tions, like  the  first  scene  located  in  the  air,  is  introduced ; 
but  accepting  Kalidasa's  story  as  it  is,  there  is  no  deficiency 
in  characterisation  and  expression.  If  the  figures  are  strange 
and  romantic,  they  are  still  transcripts  from  universal  nature. 
Even  when  the  type  does  not  appeal,  the  character  lives.  The 

1  Ed.  R.  Lenz,  with  Latin  notes  etc.,  Berlin  1838;  ed.  F.  Bollensen,  St.  Petersberg 
1840;  ed.  Monier  Williams,  Heitford  1849;  ed.  3.  P.  Pandit  and  B.  H.  Arte,  with  extracts 
fromcomm.  of  KStayavema  and  Ranganatha,  Bom.  Skt.  Ser.,  3rd  ed.  1901  xlst  ed.  1879); 
ed.  K.  P.  Parab  and  M.  B.  Talang,  NSP,  with  com  in.  of  Bafiganatha,  Bombay 
1914  (4th  ed.) ;  ed.  Gbarudev  8astri9  with  comrn.  of  Kfttayavema,  Lahore  1929.  Trs. 
into  English  by  B.  B.  Cowell,  Hertford  1851 ;  into  German  by  L.  Fritze,  Leipzig  1880 ; 
into  French  by  P.  B.  Foucaux,  Paris  1861  and  1879.  Tbe  recension  according  to  Dravidian 
manuscripts  is  edited  by  Pfccbel  in  Monattber.  d.  kgl  preuss.  Akad,  m  Berlin,  1876,  p.  609  f. 
For  fuller  bibliography  see  Sten  Konow,  op.  cit.t  p.  65-66. 

1  Kalidasa's  eource,  again,  is  uncertain.  The  story  is  retold  with  the  missing  details 
in  the  Satapatha  Brdhmana,  but  the  Pur&nic  accounts  entirely  modify  it  not  to  its  advan- 
tage. The  Ftoujmrftpa  preserves  some  of  its  old  rough  features,  but  in  the  KathZ-sarit- 
t&g&ra  and  in  the  Matsya-purana  we  find  it  in  the  much  altered  form  of  a  folk-tale.  The 
latter  version  closely  resembles  the  one  which  Kftlidftsa  follows,  but  it  is  not  clear  if  tbe 
Matiya-pwfya  version  itself,  like  tbe  Padtna-purcina  version  of  tbe  Sakuntala-legend,  is 
modelled  on  K&lidaut's  treatment  of  the  1(07. 


brave  and  chivalrous  Pururavas  is  sentimental,  but  as  his 
madness  shows,  he  is  not  the  mere  trifler  of  a  princely  amorist 
like  Agnimitra ;  while  the  jealous  queen  Au^Inari  is  not  a  repeti- 
tion of  Iravati  or  Dharim.  Although  in  the  fifth  act,  the 
opportunity  is  missed  of  a  tragic  conflict  of  emotion  between 
the  joy  of  Pururavas  in  finding  his  son  and  his  sorrow  at  the 
loss  of  Urva£i  resulting  from  the  very  sight  of  the  child,  there  is 
yet  a  skilful  delineation  of  Kalidasa's  favourite  motif  of  the 
recognition  of  the  unknown  son  and  the  psychological  climax 
of  presenting  the  offspring  as  the  crown  of  wedded  love.  There 
are  also  features  in  the  drama  which  are  exceptional  in  the  whole 
range  of  Sanskrit  literature,  and  make  it  rise  above  the  decorum 
of  courtly  environment.  The  fourth  act  on  the  madness  of 
Pururavas  is  unique  in  this  sense.  The  scene  is  hardly  drama- 
tic and  has  no  action,  but  it  reaches  an  almost  lyric  height  in 
depicting  the  tumultuous  ardour  of  undisciplined  passion.  It  is 
a  fantasy  in  soliloquy,  in  which  the  demented  royal  lover,  as  he 
wanders  through  the  woods  in  search  of  his  beloved,  demands 
tidings  of  his  fugitive  love  from  the  peacock,  the  cuckoo,  the 
flamingo,  the  bee,  the  elephant,  the  boar  and  the  antelope ;  he 
deems  the  cloud,  with  its  rainbow,  to  be  a  demon  who  has  borne 
his  beauteous  bride  away ;  he  searches  the  yielding  soil  softened  by 
showers,,  which  may  perchance,  if  she  had  passed  that  way,  have 
retained  the  delicate  impression  of  her  gait,  and  may  show  some 
vestige  of  the  red  tincture  of  her  dyed  feet.  The  whole  scene  is 
melodramatically  conceived ;  and  if  the  Prakrit  verses  are 
genuine,1  they  are  apparently  meant  to  be  sung  behind  the 
scenes.  The  stanzas  are  charged  with  exuberance  of  emotion 

1  The  authenticity  of  the  Prakrit  verses  has  been  doubted,  chiefly  on  the  ground  that  the 
Apabhramga  of  the  type  found  in  them  is  suspicious  iu  a  drama  of  such  early  date,  and  that 
they  are  not  found  in  the  South  Indian  recension  of  the  text.  The  Northern  recension 
calls  the  drama  a  Tro^aka,  apparently  for  the  song-element  in  the  verses,  but  according 
to  the  South  Indian  recension,  it  conforms  generally  to  the  essentials  of  a  Nataka.  See  U.  N. 
Upadhye,  introd.  to  Para  watma-p  raft  Wa  (Bombay  1987),  p.  56,  note,  who  arguf a  in  favour 
of  the  genuineness  of  the  ApabhrarpSa  verses. 

HlStORl*  OF  SANSKBlt  Lll'ERAfURfe 

and  pl$y  of  fancy,  but  we  have  nothing  else  which  appeals  in 
the  drama  but  the  isolation  of  individual  passion.  The  inevi- 
tctble  tragedy  of  such  a  love  is  obvious ;  and  it  is  a  pity  that  the 
play  is  coptinued  after  the  natural  tragic  climax  is  reached,  even 
at  the  cost  of  lowering  the  heroine  from  her  divine  estate  and 
making  Ipdra  break  his  word ! 

That  the  AbhijMna-fakuntala  l  is,  in  every  respect,  the  most 
finished  of  Kalidasa's  dramatic  compositions,  is  indicated  by 
the  almost  universal  feeling  of  genuine  admiration  which  it 
has  always  evoked.  The  old  legend  of  Sakuntaia,  incorporated 
in  the  Adiparvan  of  the  Mahabharata,  or  perhaps  some  version 
of  it,2  must  have  suggested  the  plot  of  this  drama ;  but  the 
difference  between  the  rough  and  simple  epic  narrative  and 
Kalidasa's  refined  and  delicate  treatment  of  it  at  once  reveals  his 
distinctive  ^dramatic  genius.  The  shrewd,  straightforward  and 
taunting  girl  of  the  Epic  is  transformed  into  the  shy,  dignified 
and  pathetic  heroine,  while  the  selfish  conduct  of  her  practical 
lover  in  the  Epic,  who  refuses  to  recognise  her  out  of  policy,  is 
replaced  by  an  irreprehensible  forgetfulness  which  obscures  his 

*  The  earliest  edition  (Bengal  Recension)  is  tbat  by  A.  L.  Cbfoy,  Paris  1830.  The 
drama  exists  in  four  recensions  :  (i)  DevanagarT,  ed.  0.  Bdhtlingk,  Bonn  184-2,  but  with  better 
materials,  ed.  Monier  Williams,  2nd  ed,,  Oxford  1876  list  ed.  1853) ;  with  coium.  of  Raghava- 
bbatta,  ed.  N.  B.  Qodbole  and  K.  P.  Parab,  NSP,  Bombay  1883, 1922.  (it)  Bengali,  ed.  R. 
Pifcchel,  Kiel  1877;  2nd  ed.  in  Harvard  Orient.  Ser.,  revised  by  0.  Cappeller,  Cambridge  Mass. 
1922.  (w)  K&6mIM,  ed.  K.  Burkhard,  Wien  1884.  (it?)  South  Indian,  no  critical  edition  ;  but 
printed  with  comtn.  of  Abhirama,  Sri  Van!  Vilasa  Press,  Srirangam  1917,  etc.  Attempts 
to  reconstruct  the  text,  by  C.  Cappeller  (Kurzere  Textform),  Leipzig  1909,  and  by 
P.  N.  Patankar  (called  Purer  Devanagarl  Text),  Poona  1902*  But  no  critical  edition, 
Utilising  all  the  recensions,  has  jet  been  undertaken.  The  earliest  English  trs.  by  William 
Jones,  London  1790  ;  but  trs.  have  been  numerous  in  various  languages.  On  Text- 
criticism,  see  Pischel,  De  Kalidfaae  Caliuntali  recensionibus  (Diss.),  Breslau  1872  and 
Die  Rezensionen  der  Cakuntala,  Breslau  1875;  A.  Weber,  Die  Recensionen  der  Sakuntala 
*in  Ind.  Studient  XIV,  pp.  86-69,  161-311;  Hariohand  Sastri,  op.  ctt.,  p.  248  f.  For 
fuller  bibliography,  see  Sten  Konow,  op.  cit.,  pp.  68*70,  and  M.  Schuyler  in  JAOS, 
XXlIi  p.  237  f. 

9  $ha  Padma-Pur&na  version  is  perhaps  a  recast  of  Kalidasa's  story,  and  there  is  no 
reason  to  think  (Win  tern  Hz,  0/L,  III,  p.  21&)  tbat  Kalidasa  derived  his  material  from  the 
Purai^a,  or  from  some  earlier  version  of  it.  Haradatta  Bar  ma,  K&lidfaa  dnd  the 
a,  Calcutta  1925,  follows  Winternitz. 

rULlDASA  lil 

love.  A  dramatic  motive  is  thereby  supplied,  and  tbe  prosaic 
incidents  and  characters  of  the  original  legend  are  plastically 
remodelled  into  frames  and  shapes  of  beauty.  Here  we  see  to 
its  best  effect  Kalidasa's  method  of  unfolding  a  character,  as  $ 
flower  unfolds  its  petals  in  rain  and  sunshine  ;  there  is  no 
melodrama,  no  lame  denouement,  to  mar  the  smooth,  measured 
and  dignified  progress  of  tbe  play  ;  there  is  temperance  in  the 
depth  of  passion,  and  perspicuity  and  inevitableness  in  action 
and  expression ;  but,  above  all  this,  the  drama  surpasses  by  its 
essential  poetic  quality  of  style  and  treatment. 

Some  criticism,  however,  has  been  levelled  against  the 
artificial  device  of  the  curse  and  the  ring,1  which  brings  in  an 
clement  of  chance  and  incalculable  happening  in  the  development 
of  the  plot.  It  should  be  recognised,  however,  that  the  psycho- 
logical evolution  of  action  is  more  or  less,  a  creation  of  the 
modern  drama.  The  idea  of  destiny  or  divinity  shaping  our 
ends,  unknown  to  ourselves,  is  not  a  peculiarly  Indian  trait,  but 
is  found  in  ancient  drama  in  general ;  and  the  trend  has  been 
from  ancient  objectivity  to  modern  subjectivity.2  Apart  from 
judging  a  method  by  a  standard  to  which  it  does  not  profess 
to  conform,  it  cannot  also  be  argued  that  there  is  an  inherent 
inferiority  in  an  external  device  as  compared  with  the 

1  Criticised  severely,  for  instance,  by  H.  Oldenberg  in  Die  Lit.  d.  alien  Indiert,  p.  261. 
The  curse  of  Candabhargava  and  tbe  magic  ring  in  tbe  Avi-inaraka,  wbich  have  a  different 
purpose,  have  only  a  superficial  similarity,  and  could  not  have  been  Kalidasa's  source  of  tbe 
idea.  On  tbe  curse  of  a  sage  as  a  motif  in  story  and  drama,  see  L,  H.  Gray  in  WZKM, 
XVIII,  1904,  pp.  53-54.  The  ring-motif  is  absent  in  the  Mahabharata,  but  P.  E.  Pavolini 
(G&tF,  XIX,  1906,  p.  376;  XX,  p.  297  f.)  finds  a  parallel  in  Jataka  no.  7.  It  is  perhaps 
an  old  Indian  story-motif. 

8  C.  E.  Vaughan,  Types  of  Tragic  Drama,  London  1908,  p.  8  f.  On  the  idea  of  Destiny 
iu  ancient  and  modern  diama,  see  W.  Macneille  Dixoo,  Tragedy ,  London  1924,  pp.  35-46. 
The  device  of  tbe  Ghost  as  the  spirit  of  revenge  in  Euripides*  Hecuba  and  Seneca's  Thyestes 
is  also  external,  although  it  was  refined  in  the  Elizabethan  drama,  especially  in  Shakespeare. 
The  supernatural  machinery  in  both  Macbeth  and  Hamlet  may  be  conceived  as  hallucination 
projected  by  the  active  minds  in  question,  but  it  stilt  has  an  undoubted  influence  on  the 
development  of  tbe  plot  of  the  respective  plays,  which  can  be  regarded  as  dramas  of  a  mm 
at  oJds  with  fate. 

142  HISTORY    OF    SANSKRIT    LITERAttJfcfi 

complication  created  by  the  inner  impetus,  to  which  we 
are  in  the  present  day  more  accustomed,  perhaps  too 
superstitiously.  It  is  not  really  a  question  of  comparative 
excellence,  but  of  the  artistic  use  which  is  made  of  a  particular 
device.  It  is  true  that  in  Kalidasa's  Abhijftana-sakuntala,  the 
dramatic  motive  comes  from  without,  but  it  is  effectively  utilised, 
and  the  drama  which  is  enacted  within  and  leads  to  a  crisis  is 
not  thereby  overlooked.  The  lovers  arc  betrayed  also  by  what 
is  within,  by  the  very  rashness  of  youthful  love  which  reaps  as 
it  sows ;  and  the^  entire  responsibility  in  this  drama  is  not 
laid  on  the  external  agency.  Granting  the  belief  of  the  time, 
there  is  nothing  unreal  or  unnatural  ;  it  is  fortuitous  but  not 
uninotived.  We  have  here  not  merely  a  tragedy  of  blameless 
hero  and  heroine;  for  a  folly,  or  a  mere  girlish  fault,  or  even 
one's  very  virtues  may  bring  misfortune.  The  unriddled  ways 
of  "life  need  not  always  be  as  logical  or  comprehensible  as  one 
may  desire;  but  there  is  nothing  illogical  or  incomprehensible 
if  only  Svadhikara-pramada,  here  as  elsewhere,  leads  to  distress, 
and  the  nexus  between  act  and  fate  is  not  wholly  disregarded. 
If  the  conflict,  again,  between  the  heart's  desire  and  the  world's 
impediment  can  be  a  sufficient  dramatic  motive,  it  is  not  of  very 
great  poetic  consequence  if  the  impediment  assumes  the  form  of 
a  tragic  curse,  unknown  to  the  persons  affected,  and  plays  the 
role  of  invisible  but  benevolent  destiny  in  shaping  the  course  of 
action.  It  is  true  that  we  cannot  excuse  ourselves  by  arraigning 
Fate,  Chance  or  Destiny;  the  tragic  interest  must  assuredly  be 
built  on  the  foundation  of  human  responsibility ;  but  at  the 
same  time  a  human  plot  need  always  be  robbed  of  its  mystery, 
and  simplified  to  a  mere  circumstantial  unfolding  of  cause  and 
effect,  all  in  nostra  potestate.  Fate  or  Ourselves,  in  the 
abstract,  is  a  difficult  question;  but,  as  in  life  so  in  the  drama, 
we  need  not  reject  the  one  for  the  other  as  the  moulder  of  human 

Much   less   convincing,    and   perhaps    more     misconceived, 
is  the  criticism  that  Kalidasa   evinces   no  interest   in   the  great 


problems  of  human  life.  As,  on  the  one  hand,  it  would  be  a 
misdirected  effort  to  find  nothing  but  art  for  art's  sake  in 
Kalidasa's  work,  so,  on  the  other,  it  would  be  a  singularly 
unimaginative  attempt  to  seek  a  problem  in  a  work  of  art  and 
turn  the  poet  into  a  philosopher.  It  is,  however,  difficult  to 
reconcile  the  view  mentioned  above  with  the  well-known  eulogy 
of  no  less  an  artist  than  Goethe,  who  speaks  of  finding  in 
Kalidasa's  masterpiece  "  the  young  year's  blossom  and  the  fruit 
of  its  decline,"  and  "  the  earth  and  heaven  combined  in  one 
name."  In  spite  of  its  obvious  poetical  exaggeration,  this 
metaphorical  but  eloquent  praise  is  not  empty  ;  it  sums  up  with 
unerring  insight  the  deeper  issues  of  the  drama,  which  is  bound 
to  be  lost  sight  of  by  one  who  looks  to  it  merely  for  a  message 
or  philosophy  of  life. 

The  Abhijfiana-£ahuntala,  unlike  most  Sanskrit  plays,  is 
not  based  on  the  mere  banality  of  a  court-intrigue,  but  has  a 
much  more  serious  interest  in  depicting  the  baptism  of  youthful 
love  by  silent  suffering.  Contrasted  with  Kalidasa's  own 
Mdkvikagnimitra  and  Vikramorva&ya,  the  sorrow  of  the  hero  and 
heroine  in  this  drama  is  far  more  human,  far  more  genuine ;  and 
love  is  no  longer  a  light-hearted  passion  in  an  elegant  surround- 
ing, nor  an  explosive  emotion  ending  in  madness,  but  a 'deep  and 
steadfast  enthusiasm,  or  rather  a  progressive  emotional 
experience,  which  results  in  an  abiding  spiritual  feeling.  The 
drama  opens  with  a  description  of  the  vernal  season,  made  for 
enjoyment  (upabhoga-ltsama)  ;  and  even  in  the  hermitage  where 
thoughts  of  love  are  out  of  place,  the  season  extends  its  witchery 
and  makes  the  minds  of  the  young  hero  and  heroine  turn  lightly 
to  such  forbidden  thoughts.  At  the  outset  we  find  Sakuntala, 
an  adopted  child  of  nature,  in  the  daily  occupation  of  tending 
the  friendly  trees  and  creepers  and  watching  them  grow  and 
bloom,  herself  a  youthful  blossom,  her  mind  delicately  attuned 
to  the  sights  and  sounds  in  the  midst  of  which  she  had  grown  up 
since  she  had  been  deserted  by  her  amanusl  mother.  On  this 
scene  appears  the  more  sophisticated  royal  hero,  full  of  the  pride 


of  youth  and  power,  but  with  a  noble  presence  which  inspires 
love  and  confidence,  possessed  of  scrupulous  regard  for  rectitude 
but  withal  susceptible  to  rash  youthful  impulses,  considerate  of 
others  and  alive  to  the  Dignity  and  responsibility  of  his  high 
station,  but  accustomed  to  every  fulfilment  of  his  wishes  and 
extremely  self-confident  in  the  promptings  of  his  own  heart. 
He  is  egoistic  enough  to  believe  that  everything  he  wishes 
must  be  right  because  he  wishes  it,  and  everything  does 
happen  as  he  wishes  it.  In  his  impetuous  desire  to  gain  what 
he  wants,  he  does  not  even  think  it  necessary  to  wait  for  the 
return  of  Kanva.  It  was  easy  for  him  to  carry  the  young  girl 
off  her  feet ;  for,  though  brought  up  in  the  peaceful  seclusion 
and  stern  discipline  of  a  hermitage,  she  was  yet  possessed  of  a 
natural  inward  longing  for  the  love  and  happiness  which  were  due 
to  her  youth  and  beauty.  Though  fostered  by  a  sage  and  herself 
the  daughter  of  an  ascetic,  she  was  yet  the  daughter  of  a  nymph 
whose  intoxicating  beauty  had  once  achieved  a  conquest  over 
the  austere  and  terrible  Visvamitra.  This  beauty  and  tins 
power  she  had  inherited  from  her  mother,  as  well  as  an  inborn 
keenness  and  desire  for  love;  is  she  not  going  to  make  her 
own  conquest  over  this  great  king?  For  such  youthful  lovers, 
love  can  never  think  of  the  morrow  ;  it  can  only  think  of  the 
moment.  All  was  easy  at  first ;  the  secret  union  to  which  they 
committed  themselves  obtains  the  ratification  of  the  foster-father. 
But  sooii  she  realises  the  pity  of  taking  love  as  an  end  in  itself, 
of  making  the  moment  stand  for  eternity.  The  suffering  comes 
as  swiftly  and  unexpectedly  as  the  happiness  was  headlong  and 

To  these  thoughtless  lovers  the  curse  of  Durvasas  comes  to 
play  the  part  of  a  stern  but  beneficient  providence.  With  high 
hopes  and  unaware  o(  the  impending  catastrophe,  she  leaves  for 
the  house  of  her  king-lover,  tenderly  taking  farewell  from  her 
sylvan  friends,  who  seem  to  be  filled  with  an  unconscious  anxiety 
for  her ;  but  very  soon  she  finds  herself  standing  utterly 
humiliated  in  the  eyes  of  the  world.  Her  grief,  remorse  and 

K5LIDASA  145 

self-pity  are  aggravated  by  the   accusation  of  unseemly  haste  and 
secrecy   from   Gautami,    as   well   as   by   the   sterner  rebuke  of 
Sarrigarava  :  "  Thus  does   one's    heedlessness  lead  to  disaster  !  M 
But   the    unkindest   cut   comes   from   her   lover   himself,    who 
insultingly   refers   to    instincts   of    feminine    shrewdness,    and 
compares    her,    without    knowing,    to   the    turbid  swelling  flood 
which   drags   others   also  in  its  fall.     Irony   in   drama  or  in  life 
can  go  no   further.     But   the   daughter  of  a  nymph  as  she  was, 
she   had    also   the   spirit   of   her   fierce   and  austere   father,  and 
ultimately  emerges   triumphant    from  the  ordeal  of  sorrow.     She 
soon  realises  that  she  has  lost  all  in  her   gambling  for  happiness, 
and  a  wordy  warfare    is    useless.     She   could    not  keep  her  lover 
by  her  youth  and  beauty  alone.     She  bows  to  the  inevitable  ;  and 
chastened  and  transformed  by    patient    suffering,   she   wins  back 
in  the  end  her  husband    and  her    happiness.     But  the   king  is  as 
yet  oblivious  of  what  is  in  store  for  him.     Still  arrogant,  ironical 
and  self-confident,  he  wonders  who  the  veiled  lady  might  be ;  her 
beauty    draws    him    as    irresistibly    as    it   once    did,  and  yet  his 
sense   of   rectitude     forbids    any    improper    thought.     But    his 
punishment  comes  in  due  course  ;    for  he  was  the  greater  culprit, 
who   had    dragged    the   unsophisticated   girl    from    her    sylvan 
surroundings  and  left  her    unwittingly    in   the  mire.      When  the 
ring  of  recognition    is   recovered,    he    realises   the  gravity  of  his 
act.     Her  resigned  and   reproachful   form   now    haunts  him  and 
gives  him    no  peace    in    the   midst  of  his   royal  duties ;  and  his 
utter  helplessness  in  rendering   any   reparation    makes    his   grief 
more  intense  arid  poignant.     The  scene  now  changes  from   earth 
to  heaven,  from  the  hermitage    of   Kanva   and    the  court    of  the 
king  to  the  penance-grove  of  Marica  ;    and    the   love  that  was  of 
the   earth  changes    to    love  that    is   spiritual  and    divine.     The 
strangely    estranged    pair   is    again    brought    together    equally 
strangely,    but    not    until    they  have  passed  through  the  trial  of 
sorrow  and  become  ready  for  a  perfect   reunion  of  hearts.     There 
is  no  explanation,  no  apology,  no  recrimination,  nor  any  demand 
for  reparation.     Sakuntala  has  now    learnt  in  silence  the  lessons 



of  suffering ;  and  with  his  former  self-complacency  and  impetuous 
desires  left  behind,  the  king  comes,  chastened  and  subdued,  a 
sadder  and  wiser  man.  The  young  year's  blossom  now  ripens 
into  the  mellow  fruit  of  autumnal  maturity. 

Judged    absolutely,     without    reference    to    an     historical 
standard,    Kalidasa's    plays     impress    us    by    their    admirable 
combination  of  dramatic   and   poetic   qualities  ;   but  it  is  in  pure 
poetry  that  he  surpasses  even  in  his  dramatic  works.     It  should 
be  admitted  that  he  has  the  powers  of  a  great   dramatist ;    he  can 
merge  his  individuality  in  the   character  he   represents ;  he  can 
paint  distinct  individuals,  and  not   personified  abstractions,   with 
consistent  reality  and  profound  insight   into   human   nature  ;  all 
his  romantic  situations   may  not  be   justified,  but  he  is  always  at 
the  height  of  a  situation  ;  within  certain  limits,  he  has  construct- 
ive  ability  of   a  high     order,   and   the    action  is    perspicuous, 
naturally  developed   and   adequately  motived  ;  he  makes  a  skilful 
use  of  natural  phenomenon  in  sympathy  with  the   prevaling  tone 
of  a  scene ;    he   gives   by   his   easy    and    unaffected   manner  the 
impression  of  grace,  which  comes  from  strength  revealed  without 
unnecessary   display  or  expenditure  of  energy  ;   he  never   tears  a 
passion  to  tatters  nor  does  h&  overstep  the  modesty  of   nature   in 
producing  a  pathetic  effect ;   he  does  not  neglect  the   incident  in 
favour  of  dialogue  or  dainty  stanzas  ;    all  this  and  more  may  be 
freely  acknowledged.     But  the  real  appeal  of  his  dramas  lies  in  the 
appeal  of  their  poetry  more  than  in  their  purely  dramatic  quality. 
His  gentle  pathos  and  humour,  his  romantic  imagination  and  his 
fine  poetic  feeling  are  more  marked   characteristics  of  his  dramas 
than  mere  ingenuity   of  plot,   liveliness  of  incident  and  minute 
portraiture   of   men    and  manners.     They   save   him   from   the 
prosaic  crudeness  of  the  realist,  as  well  as  from  an  oppressive  and 
unnatural  display  of  technical   skill.     The  elegant  compliment 
of  the  author  of  the  Prasanna-raghava  that  Kalidasa  is  the  '  grace 
of  poetry  '  emphasises  the  point ;   but  poetry  at   the  same   time 
is   not  too   seductive  for  him.     He  is  a  master  of  sentiment, 
but  not  a  sentimentalist  who  sacrifices  the  realities  of  life   ape} 

KALID1SA  147 

character  ;  he  is  romantic,  but  his  romance  is  not  divorced  from 
common  nature  and  common  sense.  He  writes  real  dramas 
and  not  a  series  of  elegant  poetical  passages ;  the  poetic  fancy 
and  love  of  style  do  not  strangle  the  truth  and  vividness  of  his 
presentation.  He  is  also  not  in  any  sense  the  exponent  of  the 
opera^  or  the  lyrical  drama,  or  the  dramatic  poem.  He  is  rather 
the  creator  of  the  poetical  drama  in  Sanskrit.  But  the  difficult 
standard  which  he  set  could  not  be  developed  except  in  an 
extreme  form  by  his  less  gifted  successors. 

In  making  a  general  estimate  of  Kalidasa' s  achievement 
as  a  poet,  one  feels  the  difficulty  of  avoiding  superlatives ;  but 
the  superlatives  in  this  case  are  amply  justified.  Kalidasa's 
reputation  has  always  been  great;  and  this  is  perhaps  the  only 
case  where  both  Eastern  and  Western  critics,  applying  not 
exactly  analogous  standards,  are  in  general  agreement.  That 
he  is  the  greatest  of  Sanskrit  poets  is  a  commonplace  of  literary 
criticism,  but  if  Sanskrit  literature  can  claim  to  rank  as  one 
of  the  great  literatures  of  the  world,  Kalidasa's  high  place  in  the 
galaxy  of  world-poets  must  be  acknowledged.  It  is  not  necessary 
to  prove  it  by  quoting  the  eulogium  of  Goethe  and  Ananda- 
vardhana ;  but  the  agreement  shows  that  Kalidasa  has  the  gift 
of  a  great  poet,  and  like  all  great  poetic  gifts,  it  is  of  universal 

This  high  praise  does  not  mean  that  Kalidasa's  poetic  art 
and  style  have  never  been  questioned  or  are  beyond  criticism. 
Leaving  aside  Western  critics  whose  appreciation  of  an  alien 
art  and  expression  must  necessarily  be  limited,  we  find  the 
Sanskrit  rhetoricians,  in  spite  of  their  great  admiration,  are  not 
sparing  in  their  criticism  ;  and,  like  Ben  Jonson  who  wanted  to 
blot  out  a  thousand  lines  in  Shakespeare,  they  would  give  us  a 
fairly  long  list  of  "  faults  "  which  mar  the  excellence  of  Kali- 
dasa's otherwise  perfect  work.  We  are  not  concerned  here  with 
the  details  of  the  alleged  defects,  but  they  happily  demonstrate 
that  Kalidasa,  like  Shakespeare,  is  not  faultily  faultless.  That 
his  rhetoric  is  of  the  best  kind  is  shown  by  the  hundreds  of 


passages  approved  by  the  rhetoricians  themselves  ;  but  that  they 
sometimes  disapprove  his  not  conforming  rigidly  to  their  laws 
is  also  significant.  If  his  obedience  is  successful,  his  dis- 
obedience is  often  no  less  successful  in  giving  him  freedom  of 
idea  and  expression  and  saving  him  from  much  that  is  wooden 
and  merely  conventional. 

Even  in  the  imposing  gallery  of  Sanskrit  poets  who  arc 
always  remarkable  for  technical  skill,  Kalidasa  has  an  astonishing 
display  of  the  poetic  art ;  but  he  never  lends  himself  to  an  over- 
development of  the  technical  to  the  detriment  of  the  artistic. 
The  bgend  which  makes  Kalidasa  an  inspired  idiot  and  implies 
a  minimum  of  artistic  consciousness  and  design  is  perhaps  as 
misleading  as  the  counter-error  of  too  great  insistence  upon  the 
consciousness  and  elaboration  of  his  art.  There  is  little  doubt 
that  he  shared  the  learning  of  his  time,  but  he  weirs  his  learn- 
ing lightly  like  a  flower;  while  the  deceptive  clarity  and  simpli- 
city of  his  work  conceal  the  amount  of  cultivation  and  polish 
which  goes  into  its  making.  It  is  not  spontaneous  creation  ; 
but  while  lesser  poets  lack  the  art  to  conceal  art,  he  has  the  gift 
of  passion,  imagination,  music  and  colouring  to  give  an  effective 
appearance  of  spontaneity  and  inevitability.  He  belongs  to  a 
tradition  which  insists  upon  literature  being  a  learned  pursuit, 
/but  he  is  one  of  the  great  and  limpid  writers  who  can  be 
approached  with  the  minimum  of  critical  apparatus  and  commen- 
tatorial  lucubrations. 

This  marvellous  result  is  made  possible  because  Kalidasa's 
works  reveal  a  rare  balance  of  mind,  which  harmonises  the  artis- 
tic sense  with  the  poetic,  and  results  in  the  practice  of  singular 
moderation.  No  other  Sanskrit  poet  can  approach  him  in  the 
command  of  that  mysterious  instrument,  the  measured  word. 
Kalidasa  has  a  rich  and  sustained  elevation  of  diction,  but  it  is 
never  overwrought  and  very  rarely  rhetorical  in  the  bad  sense. 
Conceits  and  play  upon  words  are  to  be  found  in  him,  as  in 
Shakespeare,  but  there  are  no  irritating  and  interminable  puns ; 
4  no  search  after  strained  exnressions.  harsh  inversions  or  involved 


constructions  ;   no  love   for  jewels  five  words  long ;    no  torturing 

of   words   or    making   them    too   laboured    for  the  ideas.     Even 

Kalidasa's  love  of  similitude,1   for  which  he  has   been  so    highly 

praised,  never  makes  him  employ  it  as  a  mere   verbal   trick,    but 

it  is    made   a    natural    concomitant  of  the  emotional  content  for 

suggesting  more  than  what  is   expressed.     On    the   other   hand, 

his  ideas,  emotions  and  fancies  never  run  riot  or  ride  rough-shod 

over  the  limits   of   words,    within    which   they    are    compressed 

with  tasteful  economy  and  pointedness  of   phrasing.     The    result 

is   a   fine   adjustment   of    sound    and  sense,  a  judicious  harmony 

of  word  and  idea,  to  a  point  not  often  reached  by   other   Sanskrit 

poets.     This    is  seen   not  only  in  the  extraordinary  vividness  and 

precision  of  his  presentment  of  images   and    ideas,    but    also   in 

the   modulation   of   letter,    syllable,    word,    line   and   stanza   to 

produce   a   running   accompaniment   at   once    to  the  images  and 

ideas.   The  felicity  of  expression,  its  clarity  and  ease,  which  have 

been  recognised  in  Kalidasa   as   the   best  instance  of  the  Prasada 

Guna,  come  from  this  careful  choice  of   a    rich    store   of    words, 

both  simple  and  compound,  which  are  not  only  delicately  attuned 

but  also  made   alive   with   the    haunting   suggestion   of   poetry. 

If   it   is   simplicity,    it   is   simplicity   made   more    elegant  than 

ornateness   itself   by   sheer   genius   for   proportion    and  vividity. 

There  are  hundreds  of   words,    phrases   and    lines    in   Kalidasa, 

echoing   passages    and   veritable   gems  of  expression,  giving   us 

an  infinity  of  fresh  and  felt  observations,  which  fasten  themselves 

on    the    memory  ;   such  is  the  distinctness  of   his  vision  and  the 

elaborate,     but    not   laboured,  accuracy   of   his   touch.     If   the 

gift    of     phrasing     is     one   of     the    tests     of   a   great    writer, 

Kalidasa  possesses    this   happy   gift  ;    but   it    is   also    combined 

with  the  still  more  rare  gifts,  seen  in  perfection    in   great  poets, 

of  putting  multumin  parvo  and  of  opening  up  unending  vistas  of 

thought  by  the  magic  power  of  a  single  line  or  phrase. 

1  A  study  of  Kalidasa's  Upama  has  been  made  by  P.  K.  Gode  in  Proc.  of  the  First 
Orient.  Con/,,  Poona  1922,  pp.  205-26.  On  Kalidasa'a  relation  to  Alaipkara  literature  in 
general,  see  Hillebrandt,  Kaliddsa,  p.  107  f. 


Kalidasa  is  indeed  careful  of  form,  but  he  is  not  careless  of 
matter.  Like  later  Sanskrit  poets  lie  does  not  make  his  narrative 
a  mere  peg  on  which  he  can  luxuriously  hang*  his  learning  and 
skill.  Whatever  may  be  said  about  his  choice  of  themes,  he  is 
seldom  unequal  to  them.  The  wide  exploration  of  subjects, 
legendary,  mythical,  emotional  and  even  fantastic,  and  his 
grasp  over  their  realities,  are  seen  in  the  way  in  which  he  handles, 
his  huge  and  diverse  material  in  the  Raghu-vam$a,  creates  a 
a  human  story  out  of  a  divine  myth  in  his  Kumara-sambhava 
and  depicts  the  passionate  Jove  of  hapless  lovers  in  an  environ- 
ment of  poetical  fancy  in  his  Megha-duta  and  his  dramas.  He 
may  not  always  be  at  the  height  of  his  power  through  the  entire 
length  of  a  work,  but  he  is  always  at  the  height  of  a  particular 
situation.  His  sources  are  not  exactly  known,  but  it  is  clear 
that  his  subjects  serve  him  for  the  stuff  out  of  which  he  creates; 
and  Kalidasa  perhaps  borrows  nothing  from  his  supposed 
originals  that  makes  him  Kalidasa.  He  is  not  so  much  the 
teller  of  a  story  as  the  maker  of  it,  and  his  unerring  taste  and 
restraint  accomplish  this  making  by  not  allowing  either  the  form 
or  the  content  to  overwhelm  or  exceed  each  other. 

The  same  sense  of  balance  is  also  shown  by  the  skilful 
adjustment  of  a  mobile  and  sensitive  prosody  to  the  diction  and 
theme  of  the  poems.  The  total  number  of  different  metres  which 
Kalidasa  employs  is  only  about  twenty.  With  the  exception  of 
Mandakranta  of  his  short  poem,  they  are  either  Sloka,1  or  a  few 
moric  metres  like  Vaitaliya,  Aupacchandasika  or  Puspitagra,  but 
the  general  bulk  consists  normally  of  the  relatively  short  lyrical 
measures  of  the  Tristubh-JagatI  family  or  metres  akin  to  it.  In 
the  drama,  of  course,  there  is  greater  metrical  variety  suited  to 
the  different  situations  and  emotions.  In  the  bigger  poems  the 


It  is  remarkable  thai  the  £loka  is  used  not  only  for  the  condensation  of  the  Kauiayana 
story  in  Raghu0  xii,  but  al*o  for  the  Stotra  of  deities  both  in  Raghu9  x  and  Kumara*  ii,  aa 
well  as  for  the  narration  of  Raghu *s  Dig  vi  jay  a.  For  repetition  of  the  same  metre  for  similar 
theme,  c/.  Vijogini  in  Aja-vilapa  and  Bati-vilapa;  Upajati  in  describing  mairiage  in  Raghu* 
vii  and  Kumdra*  vii;  KathoddhatS  in  depicting  amorous  pastimes  in  Raghu0  xix  and 
Kumar ^  viii,  etc. 


short  lyrical  measures  are  perhaps  meant  for  facility  of  continued 
narration  ;  the  simplicity  and  swing  of  the  stanzas  make  his 
narrative  flow  in  a  clear  arid  attractive  stream  ;  but  even  in  the 
leisurely  descriptive  and  reflectively  serious  passages,  they  never 
cramp  the  thought,  feeling  or  imagination  ||:  the  poet.  The 
stately  and  long-drawn-out  music  of  the  Mandakranta,  on  the 
other  hand,  very  well  suits  the  picturesque  and  melancholy 
recollections  of  love  in  his  Megha-duta.  It  is,  however,  clear  thai 
Kalidasa  is  equally  at  home  in. both  short  and  long  measures  ; 
and  though  a  part  of  canto  ix  of  the  Raghu-varnsa  is  meant 
deliberately  to  display  the  poet's  skill  in  varied  metres,  the 
variation  is  not  unpleasing.  But,  normally,  it  is  not  a  question 
of  mere  metrical  skill,  but  of  the  developed  and  delicate  sense  of 
rhythmic  forms  and  the  fine  subtlety  of  musical  accompaniment 
to  the  power  of  vivid  and  elegant  presentation. 

With  the  same  sense  of  equipoise  Kalidasa's  imagination 
holds  in  perfect  fusion  the  two  elements  of  natural  beauty  and 
human  feeling.  His  nature-pictures  grow  out  of  the  situations, 
and  his  situations  merge  into  the  nature-pictures.  This  is 
palpable  not  only  in  his  Megha-duta,  but  practically  throughout 
his  other  two  poems  and  his  dramas.  The  pathos  of  the  destruc- 
tion of  Kama  is  staged  in  the  life  and  loveliness  of  spring; 
Rama's  tender  recollection  of  past  joys  and  sorrows  is  intimately 
associated  with  the  hills,  rivers  and  trees  of  Dandaka ;  the  pretty 
amourette  of  Agnimitra,  the  madness  of  Pururavas,  or  the  wood- 
land wooing  of  Dusyanta  is  set  in  the  midst  of  the  sights  and 
sounds  of  nature.  A  countless  number  of  Kalidasa's  beautiful 
similes  and  metaphors  is  drawn  from  his  loving  observation 
of  natural  phenomena.  The  depth  and  range  of  his  experience 
and  insight  into  human  life  is  indeed  great,  but  the  human 
emotion  is  seldom  isolated  from  the  beauty  of  nature  surrounding 
it.  Kalidasa's  warm  humanism  and  fine  poetic  sensibility 
romanticise  the  natural  as  well  as  the  mythological  \\orld,  and 
they  supply  to  his  poetry  the  grace  and  picturesqueness  of  bacl$- 
ground  ancl  scenic  variety. 


It  will  be  seen  that  the  sense  of  universality  in  Kalidasa's 
work  springs  not  merely  from  its  humanity  and  range  of 
interests,  but  also  from  the  fact  that  it  reveals  him  as  a  great 
master  of  poetic  thought  who  is  at  the  same  time  a  master  of 
poetic  style.  Diction,  imagery,  verbal  music,  suggestion, — all 
the  elements  of  poetry  are  present  in  intense  degree  and  in  many 
forms  and  combinations  novel  and  charming;  but  they  all  exhibit 
a  marvellous  fusion  of  the  artistic  consciousness  with  poetic 
imagination  and  feeling.  Kalidasa's  poetic  power,  which  scorns 
anything  below  the  highest,  is  indeed  not  narrow  in  its  possibi- 
lities of  application,  but  its  amplitude  and  exuberance  are  always 
held  in  restraint  by  his  sense  of  art,  which,  however,  does  not 
act  as  an  incubus,  but  as  a  chastener.  His  work,  therefore,  is 
never  hampered  or  hurried;  there  is  no  perpetual  series  of  ups 
and  downs  in  it,  no  great  interval  between  his  best  and  his 
worst ;  it  maintains  a  level  of  excellence  and  stamp  of  distinction 
throughout.  All  ruggedness  and  angularity  are  delicately 
smoothed  away;  and  the  even  roundness  of  his  full-orbed  poetry 
appeals  by  a  haunting  suggestion  of  serene  beauty,  resulting  from 
a  subtle  merging  of  thought  and  feeling  in  sound  and  visual  effect. 

But  from  this  spring  both  the  strength  and  weakness  of 
Kalidasa's  poetic  achievement.  If  tranquil  contemplation  of 
recollected  emotions,  in  both  eastern  and  western  theory, 
denotes  the  aesthetic  attitude  and  forms  the  essence  of  true 
poetry,  Kalidasa's  work  is  certainly  marked  by  it  in  an  eminent 
degree.  His  tranquility,  considered  as  an  attitude'  towards  life, 
is  not  easy-going  indifference  or  placid  acquiescence  in  the  order 
of  things;  there  is  enough  of  earnestness  and  sense  of  sorrow 
to  indicate  that  it  must  have  been  hard-won,  although  we  are 
denied  the  sight  of  the  strife  and  struggle  which  led  to  its  attain- 
ment, or  of  the  scars  or  wrinkles  which  might  have  been  left 
behind.  In  his  poetry,  it  bore  fruit  in  the  unruffled  dignity  and 
serenity  of  artistic  accomplishment.  At  the  same  time,  it  en- 
couraged a  tendency  towards  reserve  more  than  towards  abandon. 
Kalidasa's  poetry  seldom  surprises  us  by  its  fine  excess;  it  is 


always  smooth, measured  and  even.  The  polished  and  the  ornate 
is  as  much  natural  to  Kalidasa  as,  for  instance,  the  rugged  and 
the  grotesque  to  Bhavabhuti.  While  Kalidasa  broiders  the 
exquisite  tissue  of  poetry,  Bhavabhuti  would  have  it  rough  and 
homespun.  This  is  perhaps  not  so  much  a  studied  effect  as  a 
temperamental  attitude  in  both  cases.  The  integrity  and  sincerity 
of  primal  sensations  and  their  fervid  expression,  which  Bhava- 
bhuti often  attains,  are  rare  in  Kalidasa's  highly  refined  and 
cultured  utterances.  It  is  not  that  Kalidasa  is  averse  to  what  is 
intense  and  poignant,  as  well  as  grand  and  awe-inspiring,  in  life  and 
nature,  but  the  emotions  are  chastened  and  subdued  in  the  severity, 
strength  and  dignity  of  finished  poetic  presentation.  There  is 
nothing  crude,  rugose  or  tempestuous  in  Kalidasa,  not  a  jarring 
note  of  violence  or  discord,  but  everything  is  dissolved  in  the 
harmony  and  beauty  of  reposeful  realisation.  The  limitation  of 
this  attitude  is  as  obvious  as  its  poetic  possibility.  While  it 
gives  the  perfect  artistic  aloofness  conducive  to  real  poetry,  it 
deprives  the  poet  of  robust  and  keen  perceptions,  of  the  concrete 
and  even  gross  realism  of  undomesticated  passion,  of  the  fresh- 
ness of  the  drossy,  but  unalloyed,  ore  direct  from  the  mine. 
Kalidasa  would  never  regard  his  emotions  as  their  own  excuse 
for  being,  but  would  present  them  in  the  embalmed  glamour 
of  poetic  realisation,  or  in  the  brocaded  garb  of  quintessenced 
rhetoric.  Kalidasa  has  perhaps  as  much  optimism  for  civilisa- 
tion as  Bhavabhuti  has  for  savagery ;  but  he  does  not  often 
attain  the  depths  and  heights  which  Bhavnbhuti  does  by  bis 
untamed  roughness.  It  is  for  this  reason  that  some  of  Kali- 
dasa's pictures,  both  of  life  and  nature,  finely  poetic  as  they  are, 
are  still  too  refined  and  remote.  The  Himalayas  do  not  appear 
to  Kalidasa  in  their  natural  grandeur  and  sublimity,  nor  the 
Dan^aka  forest  in  its  wild  beauty  and  ruggedness ;  all  these 
pictures  are  to  be  properly  finished  and  framed,  but"  thereby  they 
lose  much  of  their  trenchant  setting  and  appeal. 

But  all  this  is  not   mere   suavity  or  finicality.     Kalidasa's 
poetry  does  not  swim  in  langour,  cloyed  with  its  own  sweetness ; 



the  chastity  and  restraint  of  his   imagination,   the   precision   and 
energy  of  his  phrasing,  and  the  austerity  of  his   artistic   vigilance 
save  him  from  mere  sensuous  ideality.     Nor  is  it  classical  correct- 
ness in  the  narrow  sense  that   might   be  learned    in   the   schools 
of  literature.     The   ornate   in   Kalidasa,    therefore,    means  very 
rarely    mere    prettiness    or    aesthetic    make-believe ;   it   is   the 
achievement  of  the  refined  effect  of  a  thought  or  feeling   chiselled 
in  its  proper   form   of   beauty    and    becoming   thereby   a    poetic 
thought  or  feeling.     It  thus  involves  the   process   through    which 
the  poet  lifts  his  tyrannical  passion  or  idea  to  the  blissful  contem- 
plation of  an   aesthetic   sentiment.     Kalidasa   can    keep  himself 
above  his  subject  in  the  sense   of   command,    as   Bhavabhuti   too 
often  merges  himself  in  it   in    the   sense  of   surrender ;    and    the 
difference  is  best  seen  in    their   respective   treatment   of   pathos, 
in  which  Kalidasa' s  poetic  sense  of  restraint  and  balance   certain- 
ly achieve  a  more  profound  effect.     This  is   nowhere   more  clear 
than  in  the  picture  of  Kama's  suffering  on  the  occasion  of    Sita's 
exile,  drawn  respectively  by  the  two  poets.  Bhavabhuti 's  tendency 
is   to   elaborate   pathetic   scenes    almost   to  the  verge  of  crudity, 
omitting  no  circumstances,  no  object  animate  or  inanimate  which 
he  thinks  can  add  to  their  effectiveness  ;    and,  like  most  Sanskrit 
poets,    he   is   unable   to   stop   even    when  enough  has  been  said. 
But  Kalidasa,  like  Shakespeare,  suggests  more  than  he  expresses. 
Not  one  of  those  who  gather  round  the  body  of  Cordelia  makes   a 
phrase ;  the  emotion  is  tense,  but  there  is  no  declamation  to  work 
it  up.  The  terrible  blow  given  by  the  reported  calumny  regarding 
his  beloved   makes   Rama's   heart,   tossed  in  a  terrible  conflict 
between   love   and   duty,    break   in    pieces,   like  the  heated  iron 
beaten  with  a  hammer  ;   but   he  does  not  declaim,  nor  faint,  nor 
shed   a  flood  of  tears.     It   is  this  silent  suffering  which  makes 
Kalidasa's  Rama  a  truly    tragic  figure.     Not  until  Laksmana 
returns  and  delivers  the  spirited  but  sad  messnge  of  his  banished 
wife  that  the  king  in  him  breaks  down  and  yields  to  the  man  ; 
but  even  here  Kalidasa  has  only  one  short  stanza  (xiv.  84)  which 
sums  up  with  infinite  suggestion  the  entire  pity  of  the  situation, 



The  difficulty  of  fixing  an  exact  chronology,  as  well  as  the 
paucity  and  uncertainty  of  material,  does  not  permit  an  orderly 
historical  treatment  of  the  poets  and  dramatists  who,  in  all 
probability,  flourished  between  Kalidasa,  on  the  one  hand,  and 
Magha  and  Bhavabhuti,  on  the  other.  It  must  have  been  a 
period  of  great  vitality  and  versatility  ;  for  there  is  not  a  single 
department  of  literature  which  is  left  untouched  or  left  in  a  rudi- 
mentary condition.  But  a  great  deal  of  its  literary  productions  is 
probably  lost,  and  the  few  that  remain  do  not  adequately  repre- 
sent its  many-sided  activity.  We  know  nothing,  for  instance, 
of  the  extensive  Prakrit  literature,  which  presupposes  Hala's 
poetical  compilation,  and  which  sums  up  its  folk-tale  in  the  lost 
collection  of  Gunadhya's  Brhatkatha.  No  early  collection  also  of 
the  popular  tale  in  Sanskrit  has  survived  ;  and  of  the  possible 
descendants  of  the  beast-fable,  typified  by  the  Pancatantra,  we 
know  nothing.  Concurrently  with  the  tradition  of  Prakrit  love- 
poetry  in  the  stanza-form,  illustrated  by  the  Sattasaf  of  Hala, 
must  have  started  the  same  tradition  in  Sanskrit,  which  gives 
us  the  early  Sataka  of  Amaru  and  which  is  followed  up  by  those 
of  Bhartfhari  and  others  ;  but  the  exact  relationship  between  the 
two  traditions  is  unknown.  The  origin  of  the  religious  and 
gcomic  stanzas,  such  as  we  find  crystallised  in  -the  Stotra- 
Satakas  of  Mayura  and  Bana  and  the  reflective  Satakas  of  Bhartr- 
hari,  is  equally  obscure.  Nor  do  we  know  much  about  the 
beginnings  of  the  peculiar  type  of  the  Sanskrit  prose  romance  ; 
and  we  possess  no  earlier  specimens  of  them  than  the  fairly 
mature  works  of  Dandin,  Bana  and  Subandhu,  who  belong  to 


this  period.  The  dramatic  works  of  Bbasa  and  Kalidasa  must- 
have  inspired  many  a  dramatist,  but  with  the  exception  of 
Sudraka,  Visakhadatta,  Har§a  and  the  writers  of  four  early 
Monologue  Plays  (Bhanas),  ascribed  respectively  to  Yararuci, 
Sudraka,  Xsvaradatta  and  Syamilaka,  all  other  names  have 
perished ;  while  Bhatta  Narayana  probably,  and  Bbavabhuti 
certainly,  corne  at  the  end  of  this  period.  The  number  of  early 
poetical  works  in  Sanskrit,  the  so-called  Mahakavyas,  is  still 
fewer.  If  the  poetical  predecessors  of  Kalidasa  have  all  dis- 
appeared, leaving  his  finished  achievement  in  poetry  to  stand  by 
itself,  this  is  still  more  the  case  with  his  successors.  Bharavi, 
Bhatti,  Kumaradasa  and  Magha,  with  just  a  few  minor  poets, 
practically  complete  the  list  of  the  composers  of  the  Mahakavya  of 
this  period.  With  the  example  of  a  consummate  master  of  poetry 
to  guide  them,  the  general  level  of  merit  should  have  been  fairly 
high  and  wide-spread ;  but,  since  much  is  apparently  lost,  the 
solitary  altitudes  become  prominent  and  numerous  in  our 


Although  love-poetry  blooms  in  its  fullness  in  the  Sanskrit 
literature,  more  than  in  the  Vedic  and  Epic,  its  earliest  speci- 
mens are  lost.  It  should  not  be  supposed  that  the  passionate 
element  in  human  nature  never  found  expression.  The  episode 
of  the  love  of  Nanda  and  Sundari  painted  by  A^vaghosa,  the 
erotic  theme  of  the  poem  of  Ghatakarpara,  as  well  as  the  very 
existence  of  the  Megha-duta,  show  that  erotic  poetry  could  not 
have  been  neglected.  Love  may  not  yet  have  come  to  its  own  in 
the  Kunstpoesie,  the  polished  and  cultured  Kavya ;  but  the 
example  of  Eala's  Sattasal,  whose  stanzas  are  predominantly 
erotic,  makes  it  possible  that  in  folk-literature,  the  tradition  of 
which  is  at  least  partially  preserved  in  Prakrit,  it  finds  an 
absorbing  theme.  The  Prakrit  poetry  here  is  doubtless  as  con- 

THK   EfeOTIC   SATAKAS   OF    AMAlUJ  i57 

ventional  aB  Sanskrit,  and  is  not  folk-literature  in  its  true  sense ; 
but  it  is  clear  that,  while  these  early  Prakrit  stanzas,  popular 
among  the  masses,  have  love  for  their  principal  subject,  the  early 
Sanskrit  poems,  so  far  as  they  have  survived,  do  not  often  accept 
it  as  their  exclusive  theme.  There  is  indeed  no  evidence  to  show 
that  the  Prakrit  love-lyric  is  the  prototype  of  the  Sanskrit,  but 
the  presumption  is  strong  that  the  erotic  sentiment,  which  had 
diffused  itself  in  the  popular  literature,  survived  in  Prakrit  poetry, 
and  gradually  invaded  the  courtly  Sanskrit  Kavya,  which  provid- 
ed a  naturally  fertile  soil  for  it,  and  of  which  it  ultimately  became 
the  almost  universal  theme. 

It  is  remarkable,  however,  that,  with  the   exception  of  a  few 
works  like  the  Megha-duta,  the   Ghatakarpara  monody   and  the 
Glta-govinda,  which,  again,  are   not  unalloyed   love-poems,    the 
Sanskrit  erotic  poetry  usually  takes  the  form,  not  of  a  systematic 
well-knit  poem,  but  of  a  single  poetical  stanza  standing  by  itself, 
in  which  the  poet  delights  to  depict  a  single  phase  of  the  emotion 
or  a  single  situation  within  the  limits  of  a  finely  finished   form. 
Such  is  the  case  mostly  with  the  seven  hundred  Prakrit  stanzas, 
which  pass  under  the  name  of  Hala  Satavahana.  If  in  Prakrit  the 
highest  distinction  belongs  to  Hala's  Sattasal  for  being  a  collection 
which  gives  varied  and  charming  expression  to  the  emotion  of 
love,  the  distinction  belongs  in  Sanskrit  without  question J  to  the 
Sataka  of  Amaru,  about  whose  date  and  personality,    however,  as 
little  is  known  as  about  those  of   Hala.     It  is   a   much    smaller 
work,  but  it  is  no  less  distinctive  and  delightful. 

A  Sataka,  meaning  a  century  of  detached  stanzas,  is  usually 
regarded  as  the  work  of  a  single  poet,  although  it  is  probable 
that  Hala's  seven  centuries,  in  the  main,  form  an  antho- 
logy. The  form,  however,  allows  easy  interpolation ;  and 
most  of  the  early  Satakas  contain  much  more  than  a  hundred 

1  Although    the   commentator  Ravicandra    finds    a    philosophical    meaning  in  Amaru's 

stanzas  1    And  Vemabhupala,  another  commentator,  would  take    the  work  to   be  merely  a 

rhetorical  text-book  of  the  satne  type  as  liudra  Bha(ta's  $rhgara*tilaka,   meant  to  illustrate 
the  various  classas  of  the  Nayika  and  the  diversity  of  their  amorous  conditions  1 


stanzas,  it  is  not  always  possible,  however,  for  several  reasons,1 
to  separate  the  additions  with  certainty,  and  arrive  at  a  definitive 
text.  The  Amaru-fat aka*  for  instance,  is  known  to  exist  in  at 
least  four  recensions,8  in  which  the  text  fluctuates  between  totals 
of  96  and  115  stanzas,4  the  number  of  stanzas  common  to  all 
the  recensions,  but  given  in  varying  sequence,  being  only  51. 
The  uncertainty  of  the  text  not  only  makes  an  estimate  of  the 
work  difficult,  but  also  diminishes  the  value  of  any  chronological 
conclusion  which  may  be  drawn  fr^m  the  citation  of  a  particular 
stanza  in  later  works.  Vamana's  quotation,6  for  instance,  in 
the  beginning  of  the  9th  century,  of  three  stanzas  without 
naming  the  work  or  the  author,  establishes  nothing,  although 
these  stanzas  occur  in  the  present  text  of  Amaru's  tfataka.  The 
earliest  mention  of  Auiciru  as  a  poet  of  eminence  is  found  in  the 
middle  of  the  9lb  century  in  Anandavardhana's  work,1'  but  it  is  of 
little  assistance,  as  Amaru  is  perhaps  a  much  earlier  writer. 

1  The  attribution  in  the  anthologies,  which  often  quote  from  Amaru,  is  notoriously 
unreliable  ;  and  there  is  a  great  deal  of  divergence  regarding  the  number  and  sequence  of 
stanzas  in  the  texts  of  the  commentators  and  in  the  manuscripts  of  the  work 

*  cd.  B.  Simon,  in  four  recensions  (Roman  characters),  Kiel  1893  (Of.  ZDMG,  XLIX, 
1895,  p.  577f) ;  ed.  Calcutta  1808  (see  J.  Gildemeister,  Bibliothecae  Sanskritae,  Bonn  1847,  p.  ,73, 
no.  162),  with  the  comrn.  of  Havicandra  (ahas  Juanananda  Kaladhara);  ed.  Durgaprasad,  with 
comra.  of  Arjunavarmadeva,  with  addl.  stanzas  from  commentators  and  anthologies,  N8P,  3rd 
ed.f  Bombay  1916  (1st  ed,,  1889). 

8  Viz.,  South  Indian  (com ID.  Vemabbupala  and  Kamaoandanatha),  Bengal  (comtn. 
Havicandra),  Wesb  Indian  (comra.  Arjunavarmadeva  and  Kokasambhava),  and  Miscellaneous 
(comm.  Ramarudra,  Budramadeva,  etc.).  Simon  bases  his  text  chiefly  on  the  South  Indian 
recension,  but  it  hardly  supersedes  the  text  of  Arjunavarmadeva  of  Dhara  (circa  1215  A.D.), 
who  is  the  oldest  known  commentator.  No  certainty,  of  course,  is  possible  without  further 
critical  examination  of  materials. 

4  Arjunavarman's  printed  text  contains  102  stanzas;  in  the  N3P.  (Bombay)  ed.,  the 
appendices  add  61  verses  from  other  commentators  and  anthologies.  Aufrecht'a  suggestion 
(ZDMG,  XXVII,  p.  7f),  on  the  analogy  of  one-metre  Satakas  of  Bana  and  Mayura,  that  only 
stanzas  in  the  Sardulavikricjita  metre  are  original,  would  give  us  about  54  to  61  in  recensions 
Mil,  and  only  83  in  recension  iv.  For  the  anthology  stanzas,  some  of  which  are  fine  pieces,  but 
ascribed  sometimes  to  other  authors,  see  Thomas,  Kvst  p.  22 f ;  some  of  these  are  not  traceable 
in  the  printed  text ;  they  are  in  varied  metres. 

$    ed,  Simon,  DOS.  16,  30,  89«  Vamana,  Kavydlatpkara,  iii.  2.  4 ;  iv.  3.  12 ;  v.  2.  8. 

6    Dhvany&loka  ad  iii.  7. 


The  suggestion  that  he  is  later  than  Bhartrbari  proceeds  chiefly 
on  the  debatable  ground  of  style  and  technique;  but  after  the 
poetic  art  of  Kalidasa,  elaboration  and  finish  of  expression  may 
be  expected  in  any  writer,  and  need  not  prove  anything.  Even 
if  Amaru  is  later  than  Bhartrhari,  the  works  of  both  exhibit 
certain  characteristics  which  would  preclude  a  date  later  than 
this  period,  and  probably  they  could  not  have  been  very  far  apart 
from  each  other  in  time. 

Amaru  is  less  wide  in  range  than  Hala,  but  he  strikes 
perhaps  a  deeper  and  subtler  note.  Araaru's  poems  lack  a  great 
deal  of  the  homeliness  and  rough  good  sense  of  Hala's  erotic 
stanzas;  but  they  do  not  present,  as  more  or  less  Hala's  verses- 
do,  the  picture  of  simple  love  set  among  simple  scenes.  Amaru 
describes,  with  great  delicacy  of  feeling  and  gracefulness  of 
imagery,  the  infinite  moods  and  fancies  of  love,  its  changes  and 
chances,  its  strange  vagaries  and  wanton  wiles,  its  unexpected 
thoughts  and  unknown  impulses,  creating  varied  and  subtle 
situations.  His  language,  with  all  the  resources  of  Sanskrit, 
is  carefully  studied,  but  not  extravagantly  ornate  ;  and  his  gift  of 
lyric  phrasing  gives  it  the  happy  touch  of  ease  and  naturalness. 
Amaru  does  not  confine  himself  to  the  narrow  limits  of  Hala's 
slow-moving  moric  stanza,  but  appears  to  allow  himself  greater 
metrical  variety  and  more  freedom  of  space.  His  employment  of 
long  sonorous  metres,  as  well  as  short  lyric  measures,1  not  only 
relieves  the  monotony  of  metrical  effect,  but  adds  richness, 
weight  and  music  to  his  little  camoes  of  thought  and  feeling. 

In  spite  of  inequalities,  almost  every  stanza  in  this  collection 
possesses  a  charm  of  its  own; 2  and  the  necessity  of  compressing 

1  The  metres  employed  in  their  order  of  frequency  are  :  SarJulaviktidita,  HarinI, 
3  kliarinl,  Mand&kranta,  Sragdhara,  Vaaantatilaka  and  MalinT;  while  Drutavilambita,  Vaktra 
and  Vaiplasthavila  occur  sporadically  in  some  recensions  only.  See  Simon's  metrical  analysis, 
p.  46. 

1  For  some  specimens,  with  translation,  see  8.  K.  De,  Treatment  of  Lore  in  Sanskrit 
Literature,  Calcutta  19-29,  p.  28f;  C  Jl.  Narasimha  Sarma,  Studies  in  Sanskrit  Lft., 
Mysore  1986,  pp.  1-80. 


synthetically  one  whole  idea  or  image  within  the  limits  of  a 
single  stanza  not  only  gives  a  precision  and  restrained  elegance 
to  the  diction,   but  also  presents,   in  each  stanza,   a    complete 
picture  in  a  finely  finished  form.    In  this  art  of  miniature  word- 
painting,  of   which  we  have  already  spoken,   Amaru  unquestion- 
ably excels.     The  love   depicted  in  his    stanzas  is  often  youthful 
and    impassioned,    in   which  the  sense  and  the  spirit  meet,  with 
all  the  emotions  of  longing,  hope,   ecstasy,   jealousy,   anger,  dis- 
appointment,    despair,     reconciliation     and   fruition.     Amaru's 
world  is  indeed  different  from  ours,   but  his  pictures   are  marked 
by    a   spirit  of  closeness   to  life  and  common  realities,  not  often 
seen  in  the  laboured  and  sustained  masterpieces  of  this  period4,  as 
well  as  by  an  emotional  yet  picturesque  directness,  by  a  subtle  har- 
mony of  sound  and  sense,  and  by  a  freedom  from  mere  rhetoric, — 
qualities  which  are  not  entirely  devoid  of  appeal  to  modern  taste. 
But,  on  the  surface,  the  light  of   jewelled  fancy  plays,  and  makes 
beautiful   even    the   pains   arid  pangs  which  are  inseparable  from 
the  joys  and  ^ hopes  of  love.     It  is  not  love  tossed  on  the  stormy 
sea  of   manhood   and  womanhood,  nor  is   it  that   infinite  passion 
and  pain  of  finite  hearts  which  lead   to  a  richer   and  wider  life. 
But,  as  we  have  already  said,  the  Sanskrit  poet  delights  in  depict- 
ing the  playful   moods  of  love,  its  aspects  of  Llla,  in  which  even 
sorrow  becomes  a  luxury.     When  he  touches  a  deeper  chord,  the 
tone  of  earnestness  is  unmistakable,  but  its  poignancy  is  rendered 
pleasing  by  a  truly  poetic  enjoyment  of  its  tender   and  pathetic 
implications.    Rightly  does  inandavardhana  praise  the  stanzas  of 
Amaru   as  containing   the   veritable   ambrosia   of  poetry;  and  in 
illustrating  the  theme  of  love  as  a  sentiment  in  Sanskrit  poetry, 
all  writers  on  Poetics  have  freely  used  Amaru  as  one  of  the  original 
and  best  sources.     In  Sanskrit  sentimental  poetry,  Amaru  should 
be  regarded  as  the  herald  of  a  new  developmental'  which  the  result 
is  best  seen  in  the  remarkable  fineness,  richness  of  expression  and 
delicacy    of    thought    and    feeling  of  the  love-poems  of  later 
Satakas,  of  the  numerous  anthologies^  and  even    of  the  poetical 


The  same  traits  as  we  notice  in  the  Sataka  of  Amaru  are 
found  more  or  less  in  later  centuries  of  love-poems,  among 
which  the  3rhg&ra-£ataka 1  of  Bhartrhari  must  be  singled  out, 
not  only  for  its  early  date  and  literary  excellence,  but  also  for 
the  interest  which  attaches  to  the  legends  surrounding  the 
mysterious  personality  of  the  author.  Tradition  ascribes  to  him 
also  two  other  Satakas,  on  wise  conduct  (Nlti)  and  resignation 
(Vairagya),  respectively,  as  well  as  an  exposition  of  the  philo- 
sophy of  speech,  entitled  Vakyapadlya.2  Although  the  last 
named  work  shows  little  of  the  softer  gift  of  poetry,  it  is  not 
inherently  impossible  for  the  poet  to  turn  into  a  philosophical 
grammarian.  From  the  Buddhist  pilgrim  Yi-tsing  we  know 
that  a  grammarian  Bhartrhari,  apparently  the  author  of  the 
Vakyapadiya,  died  about  051  A. D. ;  and  even  if  his  reference 
does  not  make  it  clear  whether  Bhartrhari  was  also  the  poet  of 
the  three  Satakas,  his  ignoring  or  ignorance  of  them  need  not 
be  exaggerated.  Bhartrhari,  the  grammarian,  was  probably  a 
Buddhist,8  but  the  fact  that  the  Satakas  reveal  a  Saiva  of  the 
Vedanta  persuasion4  does  not  necessarily  justify  the  supposition 
of  two  Bhartrharis;  for,  apart  from  the  question  of  interpolation, 

1  Ed.     P.    Bohlen,    with    Latin    trs.,    Berlin    1833;    also  ed.  in  Haeberlin's   Kavya- 
a.tingralm     p.  14. 'J  f.,  reprinted   in  Jivananda's  Kavya-saipgraha,  TI,   p.    53  f,    which    also 
contains  the  Nlti  a-id  Vairagya  at  pp.  125  f,  172  f.     The  Nlti  and  Vairagya  ha\e    been  edited, 
from  a  number  of  Mas,  and  with  extracts  from  commentaries,  by  K.  T.  Telang,  Bomb  Skr.  Ser., 
1874,  1885.     TI  e  three  Satakas  are  alto  printed,  under  the  title  Subbasitatris'atI,  with   comm. 
of  Eamucandra  Budhendra,  NSP,  [6th    revised  ed.,  Bombay  1022  list  ed.   1902].     A  ciitical 
edition  of  the  Satakas  is  still  a  necessity.     Eng.  trs.,  in  verse,  of  Nlti  and  Vairasya  by  C.   H. 
Tawney  inL4,  V,  1876    (reprinted    separately,    Calcutta   1877);   all   the   Satakas  trs.   B.    H. 
Wortliam,   Trubner  :  London    1886;   J.  M.  Kennedy,  London  1913;  C.  W.  Gurncr,  Calcutta 

2  Sometimes   'he  grammatical   poem   Bhatti-ltavya   is   ascribed   to  Ivm,  but  there  ia 
nothing  more  than  the  name  BLatti  aa  a  Prakritised  form  of  Bhartr  to  support  the  attribution. 
The  legends  which  make   Bhartihari  a  brother  of  the  still  IE  ore  mysterious  Vikramaditya  is 
useless  for  any  historical  purpose.    The  story  has  been  dramatised  in   later   times  in  the 
Bhartrhari-nirveda  of  Harihara,ed.   NSP,  Bombay  1912.     Cf.   Gray  in  JAOS,   XXV,    1904, 
p.  197  f;  A.  V.  W.  Jackson  in  JAOS,  XXIII,  1902,  p.  313  f. 

3  See  Pathak  in  JBRAS,  XVIII,  1893,  p.  341  f;  but  this  view  has  not  found  geceral 

4  Telang.  op.  cit.t  p.  ix  f , 


Har§a  likewise  invokes  the  Buddha  in  his  Nagananda,  but  pays 
homage  to  Siva  in  his  Ratndvall. 

The  texts  of  the  Satakas  of  Bhartrhari,  as  they  stand,  are 
much  more  uncertain  and  devoid  of  definite  structure  than  that 
of  Amaru's  Sataka  ;  and  stanzas  from  them  occur  in  the  works 
of  other  well  known  writers,1  or  ascribed  to  other  authors  in  the 
anthologies.  The  fact,  however,  -should  not  be  made  the  ground 
of  the  presumption  that  Bhartrhari,  like  Vyasa  and  Canakya, 
is  only  a  name  under  which  miscellaneous  compilations  were 
passed,2  or  that  Bhartrhari  himself  incorporated  stanzas  from 
other  writers  to  make  up  his  own  poem.3  The  argument  lacks 
neither  ingenuity  nor  plausibility,  but  very  few  Satakas,  early 
or  late,  have  escaped  the  misfortune  of  tampering  and  interpola- 
tion; and  a  critical  examination  of  the  textual  question  is 
necessary  before  the  problem  can  be  satisfactorily  solved. 
There  is  still  nothing  to  prevent  us  from  accepting  the  tradition 
of  Bhartrhari  's  original  authorship,  which  is  almost  uniform  and 
unbroken,  and  which  does  not  relegate  him  (o  the  position  of  a 
mere  compiler. 

Nor  is  there  any  cogency  in  the  suggestion  that  the 
Sriigara-satalia  alone  is  genuine,  made  on  the  alleged  ground  that 
it  shows  individuality  and  unity  of  structure  as  the  product  of 
a  single  creative  mind.  As  the  text  itself  is  admittedly  uncertain, 
regarding  both  originality  and  order  of  stanzas--,  such  surmises, 
based  on  content  and  style,  are  always  risky  ;  but  there  is  hardly 
anything  to  justify  the  position  that  the  Srhgara-sataka  can  be 
sharply  distinguished  in  this  or  other  respects  from  the  Niti-  and 
Vairagya-satakas.  If  there  is  any  substance  in  the  legend 
recorded  by  Yi-sting  that  Bhartrhari  vacillated  no  less  than  seven 
times  between  the  comparative  charms  of  the  monastery  and  the 
world,  it  signifies  that  the  poet  who  wrote  a  century  of  passionate 

*  E.g.  in   AbhijnanaMuntala,   Mudra-raksasa   and   Tantrakhyayika  ;    see  Petergon, 
Sbhv,    pp.  74-75. 

*  Aufrccht,  Leipzig  Catalogue,  no.  417. 
3    Bohlen,  op.  cit.,  Prefatio,  p.  viii. 


stanzas  could  very  well  write  the  other  two  centuries   on    worldly 
wisdom  and  renunciation. 

The  susceptibility  to  contrary  attractions  is  evident  in  all 
the  three  Satakas.  The  Ntti-£ataka  should  not  be  taken  as  a 
mere  collection  of  moral  maxims  or  an  epitome  of  good  sense 
and  prudence;  it  shows  at  once  a  lurking  attachment  to  the 
world  and  an  open  revulsion  from  its  sordidness.  The  poet  says, 
with  considerable  bitterness,  at  the  outset :  "  Those  who  are 
capable  of  understanding  me  are  full  of  envy  ;  men  in  power  are 
by  arrogance  disqualified;  all  others  labour  under  stupidity  ;  all 
my  good  sayings  have,  therefore,  grown  old  within  myself." 
In  the  same  strain,  the  poet  refers  to  the  haughtiness  of  kings, 
to  the  power  of  wealth,  to  the  humiliation  of  servitude,  to  the 
clash  of  passion  and  prejudice  with  culture  and  education,  to  the 
wicked  and  the  ignorant  reviling  the  good  and  the  wise,  and  to  the 
distressing  things  of  life,  which  he  calls  darts  rankling  in  his 
heart.  Nor  is  the  Vairfigyu-sfitaha  the  work  of  an  ascetic  or 
inelastic  mind.  It-  gives  expression  to  the  passionate  pain  of  an 
idealist,  whose  inborn  belief  in  the  goodness  of  the  world 
is  shattered  by  the  sense  of  its  hollo wness  and  wickedness. 
It  refers  to  the  never-ending  worries  of  earning  and  spending, 
of  service  and  perpetual  insults  to  one's  self-respect,  and  of  the 
wreck  of  human  hopes  in  the  striving  for  an  ideal ;  it  condemns 
the  smug  complacency  of  humanity  in  the  midst  of  disease, 
decay  and  death,  and  falls  back  upon  the  cultivation  of  a  spirit  of 

The  vehemence  with  which  Bhartrhari  denounces  the 
joys  of  life  and  attractions  of  love  in  these  two  poems  is 
on  a  level  with  his  attitude  disclosed  in  his  stanzas  on 
love ;  for  the  3rhgara-£ataka  is  not  so  much  a  poem  on  love 
as  on  the  essential  emptiness  of  love,  an  outburst  not  so  much 
on  its  ecstasies  and  sunny  memories  by  a  self-forgetful  lover,  as 
on  its  darkening  sorrows  and  wrongs  by  a  man  v  in  bitter  earnest. 
It  indicates  a  frame  of  mind  wavering  between  abandon  and 
restraint ;  "  either  the  fair  lady  or  the  cave  of  the  mountains/1 


"either  youth  or  the  forest,"  "  either   an    abode   on   the   sacred 
banks  of  the  Ganges  or   in   the   delightful   embrace   of   a   young 
woman  " — sentiments  like  these  are   scattered    throughout.     The 
delights  of  life  and    love   are    as  much   captivating   as   they   are 
reprehensible ;  the  bitterness  of   the   denunciation   only  indicates 
the  measure  of  the  terrible  fascination  which  love  and   life   exert 
on  the  poet ;  it  arises  not  so  much  from   any   innate   repugnance 
as  from  the  distressing  necessity  of  convincing  himself  and  tearing 
away  from  them.     Bhartrhari's  philosophy   of    love   is    simple: 
woman  is  both  joy  and  sorrow,  trouble   and   appeasement ;   there 
is  continual  attraction  and  continual  repulsion ;   from   loving   too 
much  the  poet  ceases  to  love  at  all  and    takes   to   asceticism.     A 
man  of  artistic  temperament  and  strong  passions,  the  poet   frank- 
ly delights  in  all  that  is  delightful,    but   it   gives   him   no   peace 
nor  any  sure  foothold  anywhere.     The  tone   is   not  sombre,   but 
pungent,  and  even  vitriolic.     Bhartrhari  inevitably    reminds   one 
of   Asvaghosa,    by    the    side  of   whose  indignant  outburst  against 
woman,  can   be   placed    his   biting   interrogation:     "Who   has 
created  woman  as   a   contrivance   for   the   bondage  of   all   living 
creatures  :    woman,  who  is  the  whirlpool  of   all   doubt,   the   uni- 
verse of  indiscipline,  the  abode  of  all  daring,  the  receptacle  of   all 
evil,  the  deceitful  soil  of  manifold  distrust,    the    box   of    trickery 
and  illusion,  a  poison    coated    with   ambrosia,   the   hindrance   to 
heaven  and  a  way  to  the  depth  of  hell?"     If  the  poet   sometimes 
attains  a  calmer  frame  of   mind   in   his   two   other   Satakas  on 
Niti  and  Vairagya,  his  intense    conviction  is  hard-won,   and   can 
be  best  understood  in  the   light   of   the    powerful   longings   and 
their  attendant  sufferings  which  he   describes   in   his   Sataka   on 
love.     It  is  no  wonder  that  his    assumption    of   the   yellow   garb 
so  often  conflicted  with  his  craving  for  worldly  delights. 

Bhartrhari,  therefore,  differs  from  Amaru  both  in  attitude 
and  expression.  He  is  too  earnest  to  believe  in  the  exaltation  of 
woman  as  such,  even  though  he  cannot  withstand  the  fascina- 
tion ;  he  is  too  serious  to  depict  in  swift  succession  the  hundreds 
of  tender  memories  and  pleasing  pains  of  love,  its  flying  thoughts 


and  dancing  feelings,  its  delicate  lights  and  shades,  in  the  same 
way  as  they  reflect  themselves  in  Amaru's  little  poems  in  their 
playful  warmth  and  colour.  Bhartrhari's  miniature  love-stanzas 
have  not  the  same  picturesqueness  of  touch,  the  same  delicacy 
and  elegance  of  expression,  but  they  gain  in  intensity,  depth 
and  range,1  because  they  speak  of  things  which  lie  at  the  core 
of  his  being ;  they  have  enough  piquancy  and  sharpness  to  require 
any  graceful  trimming.  If  Amaru  describes  the  emotion  of  love 
and  the  relation  of  lovers  for  their  own  sake  and  without  any 
implication  for  connecting  them  with  larger  aspects  of  life, 
Bhartrhari  is  too  much  occupied  with  life  itself  to  forget  its 
worries,  and  consider  love  and  women  2  apart  from  it  in  any  fanciful 
or  ideal  aspect.  Amaru  has  perhaps  more  real  poetry,  but 
Bhartrhari  has  more  genuine  feeling.3 

There  is  a  large  number  of  erotic  and  reflective  stanzas 
scattered  throughout  the  Sanskrit  anthologies,  but  the  absence 
or  uncertainty  of  chronological  data  makes  it  difficult  to  separate 
the  early  from  the  late  compositions.  If,  however,  the  anthology 
poet  Dharmaklrti,  who  is  sometimes  cited  also  with  the  epithet 
Bhadanta,  be  the  Buddhist  logician  and  philosopher,  he  should 

1  The  metres  employed  by  Bhaitrbaii   in  the   present  texts  of   his   three  poems    are 
diversified,  but  his  inclination  to  long  sonorous  measures  is  shown    by   bis   use  of   Sragdbara 
twenty-two    times.      See   L.   H.     Gray,     The   Metres  of    Bhartrhari  in  JAOS,  XX,  1899, 
pp.  157-59. 

2  It  is  noteworthy  that  Amaru  always  speaks  of  man's  fickleness,  and  never  echoes  the 
almost  universal  bitterness   regarding   woman's   inconstancy,    which   characterises   much  of 
the  poetical,  as  well  as   religious   and   didactic,  literature.     Bhartrbarj,  in  one  passage,   re* 
commends  boldness  and  even  aggressiveness  in  dealing  with  women,  which  the  commentator 
facetiously  explains  by  saying   that  otherwise   woman   will  dominate  man  ! — For  a   general 
appreciation  of  Bhartrhari,  see  C.  R.  Narasimba   Sarma,  op   cit.t    pp.    28-56;    H.  Olden  berg, 
Lit.  d.  alien  indien,  p.  221  f. ;   S.  K.  Det  op.  cit.t  p.  34  f. 

3  The  attitude  of  mind,  which  leaves  no  alternative  between  the  world  and  the  monag- 
tery,  between  love  and  renunciation,  is  not  only  an  individual  trait,  but  seems  to  have  marked 
the  outlook  of  a  class  of  Sanskrit  poets,  who  wrote  stanzas,  applicable  by  double  entente 
at  once  to  the  themes  of  enjoyment  and  resignation.    In  general  also,  the   Sanskrit  poets 
have  enough  simplicity  and  integrity  of  feeling  to  make  them  grateful  for  the  joys  of  life,  but 
penitent  when  they  have  exceeded  in  enjoying  them.    In  such  an  atmosphere,  it  is  clear,  the 
idea  of  the  chivalrous  Platonic  love  or  the  so-called    intellectual  love  could  not  develop 
at  all. 



belong  to  a  period  between  the  6th  and  7th  century  A.D.  The 
total  number  of  stanzas  independently  assigned  to  him  in  the 
different  anthologies1  is  about  sixteen.2  There  is  nothing  of  the 
scholar  or  the  pedant  in  these  elegant  little  poems,  which  are 
generally  of  an  erotic  character,  and  some  of  them  are  worthy 
of  being  placed  by  the  side  of  those  of  Amaru  and  Bhartrhari. 
II  Dharmaklrti,  in  the  intervals  of  heavier  work,  wrote  such  a 
collection,  its  loss  is  much  to  be  regretted. 


The  vogue  into  which  the  Sataka  style  of  poetry  came 
in  this  period  is  also  illustrated  by  the  Stotras  of  Mayura 
and  Barm,  but  their  spirit,  theme  and  method  are  different. 
The  production  of  hymns  in  praise  of  deities  obtained  from 
the  Vedic  times,  but  the  ancients  possessed  the  secret  of  making 
their  religion  poetry  and  their  poetry  religion.  Their  descen- 
dants lost  the  art,  but  evolved  a  new  type  of  Stotras  or  poem  of 
praise  and  prayer.  The  Epics,  as  well  as  the  Puranas  and 
Tantras  of  uncertain  date,  abound  in  liturgical  poems  in  which 
the  gods  of  the  new  Hindu  mythology  receive  adoration  ;  while 
the  Jainas  and  Buddhists  do  not  stay  behind  in  addressing  a 
large  number  of  similar  religious  poems  to  the  deities  and 
teachers  of  their  own  pantheon  and  hagiology.  Some  of  these 
compositions  are  meant  solely  for  the  purpose  of  sects  and 
cults ;  some  are  mere  theological  collections  of  sacred  epithets  or 

1  For  a  complete  list,  see  Thomas,  Kvs>  pp.  47-50,  which  gives  also  a  list  of  Dharma- 
klrti'e  poetical  works  translated  into  Tibetan,  including  two  Stotras.  Also  see  Peterson, 
Sbhv,  pp.  46-48,  and  in  JBRAS,  XVI,  pp.  172-73;  Aufrecht  in  Ind.  Stud.,  XVI,  pp.  204-7, 
ZDM  G,  XXVJI,  p.  41: 

*  Of  these,  Anandavardhana  quotes  one  (iii,  p.  216 ;  /at>anya-cira*nna°)  with  the  remark  : 
tatha  c&yaip  Dharmafarteh  .Mo/ra  iti  prasiddhih,  satflbhavyate  ca  tasyaiva ;  and  be  adds 
another  stanza  (p.  217)  by  Dharmaklrti,  which  is  not  found  in  the  anthologies.  The  first  of 
these  stanzas  is  also  quoted  and  ascribed  to  DharmakTrti  by  Kgemendra  in  his  lucitya- 


strings  of  a  hundred  or  thousand  sacred  names  ;  most  of  them 
have  a  stereotyped  form  and  little  individuality  ;  but  the  .higher 
poetry  and  philosophy  also  invaded  the  field.  Asvaghosa's  early- 
eulogy  of  the  Buddha  in  Buddha-carita  xxvii  is  unfortunately  lor.t 
in  Sanskrit,  while  the  Stotras  of  his  school,  ns  well  as  the  spuri- 
ous Gandl-stotra  of  a  somewhat  later  time,  are  hardly  of  much 
poetical  worth.  We  have,  however,  two  remarkable  Stotras  to 
Visnu  and  Brahman,  both  in  the  Sloka  metre;  uttered  by  the 
gods  in  Kalidasa's  Raghu0 (\.  16-32)  and  Kumara0  (iii.  4-15) 
respectively,  although  it  is  somewhat  strange  that  there  is  no 
direct  -Stotra  to  his  beloved  deity  Siva.  In  this  connexion,  a 
reference  may  ba  made  to  a  similar  insertion  of  Stotras  in  the 
Mahakavyas  of  the  period,  such  as  the  Stava  of  Mahadeva  by 
Arjuna  in  the  closing  canto  of  Bharavi's  poem,  that  of  Krsna  by 
Bhisma  in  $i6upala-vadha  xiv,  and  that  of  Candl  by  the  gods  in 
Ratnakara's  Ham-vijaya  xlvii  (167  stanzas).  But  praise  and 
panegyric  very  early  become  the  individual  theme  of  separate 
poems  ;  and  an  endless  number  of  Stotras  has  survived.1  They 
are  mostly  late,  and  of  little  literary  \\orth ;  for  many  have 
attempted  but  very  few  have  succeeded  in  the  exceedingly 
difficult  task  of  >acied  verse.  Their  theme  and  treatment  do  not 
al  \vn\s  concern  Vairagya,  but  their  devotional  feeling  is  undoubt- 
ed, and  they  are  seldom  merely  doctrinal  or  abstract.  Their 
objective,  however,  is  not  poetry,  and  they  seldom  attain  its  proper 
accent.  It  is  no  wonder,  therefore,  that  the  Sanskrit  poeticians 
and  anthologists  do  not  give  much  prominence  to  the  Stotra  works, 
nor  consider  them  worthy  of  a  separate  treatment. 

The  early  efforts  of  Mayura  and  Banabhatta  are  not  very 
impressive  for  their  purely  poetic  merit,  but  they  illustrate  the 
early  application  of  the  elegant,  but  distinctly'  laboured,  manner 
of  the  Kavya  and  its  rhetorical  contrivances  to  this  kind  of  litera- 

1  For  religious  hymnology,  in  general,  a  subject  which  has  not  yet  been  adequately 
studied,  see  S.  P.  Bhattacharyya,  The  Stotra-Literature  of  Old  India  in  IHQ,  I,  1925, 
PD.  340-60,  for  an  eloquent  appreciation. 


ture.  Mayura  is  associated,1  chiefly  by  late  Jaina  legends,  asser- 
tions of  late  commentators  and  recorded  traditions  of  anthologists, 
with  Banabbatta  as  a  literary  rival  in  the  court  of  Harsa  and  as 
related  by  marriage  either  as  brother-in-law  or  father-in-law.2  The 
legends  also  speak  of  Mayura's  affliction  with  leprosy  by  the 
angry  curse  of  Bana's  wife,  Mayura's  alleged  sister  or  daughter, 
whose  intimate  personal  beauty  he  is  said  to  have  described  in 
an  indiscreet  poem.  This  work  is  supposed  to  be  identical  with 
the  highly  erotic,  but  rather  conventional,  poem  of  eight 
fragmentary  stanzas,  which  goes  by  the  name  Mayurastaka*  and 
which  describes  a  fair  lady  returning  from  a  secret  visit  to  her 
lover.  Three  of  its  stanzas  are  in  Sragdhara  (the  metre  of  Surya- 
6ataka)  and  the  rest  in  Sardulavikridita ;  it  refers,  with  more  wit 
than  taste,  to  the  "tiger-sport"  of  the  lady  with  the  "demon  of 
a  lover,"  and  to  the  beauty  of  her  limbs  which  makes  even  an 
old  man  amorously  inclined,4  Tf  the  poem  is  genuine,  it  is 
possible  that  such  descriptions  in  the  poem  itself  started  the 
legend  ;  but  the  legend  also  adds  that  a  miraculous  recovery  from 
the  unhappy  disease  was  effected,  through  the  grace  of  the  sun- 
god,  by  Mayura's  composing  his  well-known  poem,  the  Sfiryn- 

1  All  that  is  known  of  Mayura  and  his  genuine  and  ascribed  works  will  be  found  in 
GK  P.  Quackenbos,  The  Sanskrit  Poems  of  Mayura,  New  York  1917  (Columbia  Univ.  Indo- 
Tranian  series^;  it  gives  the  works  in  Roman  transliteration,  with  Erg.  trs.  and  notes,  and 
also  contains  the  Candt-jataka  of  Bana  with  trs.  and  not^s. 

*  In  the  enumeration  of  tbe  friends  of  his  youth,  who  are  said  to  have  been  of  the  saone 
age  (cayasa  samanah),  Bana  refers  in  hia  Harsa-carila  (ed.  A.  A.  Fuhrer,  Bombiy  19r9, 
p.  67 ;  ed.  Parab,  NSP,  Bombay  1892,  p.  47,  4th  ed.,  1914,  p.  42)  to  a  certain  Jangulika  or 
snake-doctor,  appropriately  named  Mayuraka,  who  may  or  may  not  be  our  poet ;  but  the 
earliest  mention  of  the  poet  Mayura,  along  with  Baija,  in  the  court  of  Harsa  occurs  in  the 
NQvasahasahka-carita  (ii.  18»  of  Padmagupla  (about  1005  A.D.).  The  Inter  eulogistic  stanza  of 
Rftjas'ekhara  in  Sml  O'v.  68),  however,  punningly  alludes  to  the  art  of  the  snake-doctor  The 
earliest  anonymous  quotation  of  two  stanzas  (Nos.  9,  23)  from  the  Sarya-tataka  of  Mayura 
occurs  in  Inandavardhana's  Dhvanydloka  (2nd  half  of  the  9th  century),  ii,  p.  92  and  99-100. 
There  is  another  much  inferior  tradition  which  connects  him,  along  with  many  other  Sanskrit 
poets,  with  king  Bhoja  of  Dhara. 

8  Quackenbos,  op.  ct't.,  pp.  72.79,  text  and  trs.  ;  also  in  JAOS,  XXXI,  1911,  pp.  843-54. 
-4  kenaisd,  rati-rak§a$ena  ramitd    £ardula-vikriditat    st.    3;    and    dfjtv&   rupam   idarp, 
prtyahga-gahanam  Vfddho'pi  kdmayale,  st.  $. 


fataka,1  in  praise  of  the  deity.  But  it  must  be  said  that  the 
the  Sataka  gives  the  impression  of  being  actuated  not  so  much  by 
piety  as  by  the  spirit  of  literary  display.  The  theme  of  the 
work,  which  retains  in  its  present  form  exactly  one  hundred 
stanzas,2  consists  of  an  extravagant  description  and  praise  of  the 
sun-god  and  his  appurtenances,  namely,  bis  rays,  the  horses  that 
draw  his  chariot,  his  charioteer  Aruna,  the  chariot  itself  and  the 
solar  disc.  The  sixth  stanza  of  the  poem  refers  to  the  suni's 
power  of  healing  diseases,  which  apparently  set  the  legend 
rolling ;  but  the  belief  that  the  sun  can  inflict  and  cure 
leprosy  is  old,  being  preserved  in  the  Iranian  story  of  Sam, 
the  prototype  of  the  Puranic  legend  of  Samba ;  it  may  not 
have  anything  to  do  with  the  presumption  that  the  cult  of  the 
sun  was  popular  in  the  days  of  Harsa,  even  if  Harsa's  father  is 
described  in  the  Harsa-carita  as  a  devotee  of  the  sun.  With  all 
its  devotional  attitude,  the  poem  is  written  in  the  elaborate 
Sragdhara  metre ;  and  its  diction,  with  its  obvious  partiality 
for  compound  words,  difficult  construction,  constant  alliteration, 
jingling  of  syllables  and  other  rhetorical  devices,8  is  equally 

1  Ed.  G.  P.  Quackenbos,  as  above.     Also  ed.  in  Haeberlin,  op.  ct£.>  p,  197  f,  reproduced 
in  Jivananda,     op.  cit.t  II,   p.  222  f;  ed.    Durgaprasad  and   K.    P.   Parab   with   comin.  of 
Tribhuvanapala,  NSP,  Bombay  1889,  1927  ;  ed.  with  comra.  of  Yajnes*vara,  in  Pothi  form, 
Baroda  Samvat   1928   (=1872   A.D.).   The  Ceylonese   paraphrase   (Sanna)  by  Vilgamrnula" 
Mahathera,  with  text,  ed.   Don  A.    de  Silva   Devarakkhita  Batuvantudave,  Colombo  1883 
(see  JRAS,  XXVI,  1894,  p.  555  and  XXVIII,  1896,  pp.  215-16). 

2  With  an  apparently  spurious  stanza  at  the  end,  not  noticed   by    the    commentator,    in 
NSP  ed.,  giving  the  name  of  the  author  and  the    Phala-Sruti.     The  order    of    the   stanzas, 
however,  is  not  the  same  in  all  editions  and  manuscripts ;  but  this   is  of  little  consequence  in 
a  loosely  constructed  poem  of  this  kind. 

3  It  ia  remarkable  that  puns  are  not  frequent;  and  the  poem  has  some  clever, 
but  very  elaborate,  similes  and  metaphors,  eg.,  that  of  the  thirsty  traveller  (st.  14),  of 
antidote  against  poison  (st.  31),  of  the  day-tree  (st.  34),  of  the  dramatic  technique 
(st.  50) ;  there  ia  a  play  on  the  numerals  from  one  to  ten  (st.  18  j  cf.  Buddha -carita  ii. 
41);  harsh-sounding  series  of  syllables  often  occur  (st.  6,  98  etc.);  while  st.  71  is  cited 
by  Mamma{a  as  an  instance  of  a  composition,  where  facts  are  distorted  in  order  to  effect  an 
alliteration.  The  Aksara-<Jambara,  which  Bana  finds  in  the  diction  of  the  Gaudas,  is  abundant 
here,  as  well  as  in  Ma  own  Canft-tataka ;  and  it  is  no  wonder  that  one  of  the  commen- 
tators, Madhusii'laoa  (about  1654  A.D.I,  gives  to  both  Mayura  and  Bana  the  designa- 
tion of  eastern  poets  (Pauraatya) . 


elaborate.  The  quality  of  graceful  and  dignified  expression  and 
the  flowing  gorgeousness  of  the  metre  may  be  admitted  ;  in  fact, 
the  majesty  which  this  compactly  loaded  metre  can  put  on  has 
seldom  been  better  shown  ;  but  the  highly  stilted  and  recondite 
tendencies  of  the  work  have  little  touch  of  spontaneous  inspira- 
tion about  them.  Whatever  power  there  is  of  visual  presenta- 
tion, it  is  often  neutralised  by  the  deliberate  selection  and 
pracfice  of  laboured  tricks  of  rhetoric.  The  work  is  naturally 
favoured  by  the  rhetoricians,  grammarians  and  lexicographers, 
and  frequently  commented  upon,1  but  to  class  it  with  the  poems 
of  Kalidasa  and  Bhavabhuti  shows  the  lack  of  ability  to  distin- 
guish between  real  poetry  and  its  make-believe.2 

The  Candl-$ataka  8  of  Bana  is  of  no  higher  poetical  merit ; 
it  is  cited  even  less  by  rhetoricians  4  and  anthologists,  and  com- 
mentaries on  it  are  much  fewer.6  Written  and  composed  in 
the  same  sonorous  Sragdhara  metre  6  (102  stanzas)  and  in  the 
same  elaborate  rhetorical  diction,  the  poem  shows  noteworthy 
similarity  to  Mayura's  Sataka,  and  lends  plausibility  to  the 
tradition  that  it  was  composed  in  admiring  rivalry.  The  myth 
of  Candi's  slaying  of  the  buffalo-demon  is  old,,  being  mentioned 
in  the  Mdhabharata  (ix.  44-46)  and  amplified  in  the  Puranas ; 
but  Bana  makes  use  of  it,  not  for  embellishing  the  story,  but 
^for  a  high-flown  panegyric  of  Candl,  including  a  glorification 

1  The  number  of  commentaries  listed  by  Aufrecht  is  25;  see  Quackenbos,  op. 
cif.f  p.  108* 

*  About  20  stanzas  in  various   metres,   not  traceable  in  this   work,  are    assigned  tc 
Mayura  in  the  anthologies ;  some  of 'them  are  clever   and  less  artificial,  but  are  not  of  mucli 
poetical  value.    For  these,  see  Quackenboa,  pp.  229-242.     Some  of  these  verses  are  ascribed  to 
other  poets  as  well ;  see  Thomas,  Kvst  p.  67f . 

9  Ed.  in  Kavyamala,  Gucchaka  iv,  with  a  Sanskrit  comm. :  ed.  G.  P.  Quackenbos,  at 
above,  pp.  243-357.  There  is  nothing  improbable  in  Sana's  authorship  of  the  work.  Arjuna- 
varmadeva  in  the  12th  century  (on  Amaru,  st.  1)  expressly  ascribes  this  work  to  Bana  and 
quotes  a  stanza  from  it.  There  is  a  picturesque  description  of  a  temple  of  Candika  in  Bana'i 

4    The  earliest  quotation  is  by  Bboja,  who  cites  at.  40  and  66. 

*  Only  two  or  three  commentaries  are,  so  far,  known. 

*  With  the  exception  of  sis  stanzas  in  Sardulavikridita   (nos.    25,  32,  49,  55,  66,  7-2] 
may  or  may  not  be  original,  for  the  variation  has  no  special  motive. 



of  the  power  of  Candl's  left   foot   which   killed  the  demon  by  its 
marvellous  kick  !  Bana  does  not  adopt  Mayura's  method  of  syste- 
matic description  of  the  various   objects   connected    with   Candl, 
but  seeks  diversion  by  introducting,    in  as   many  as  forty-eight 
stanzas,  speeches  in  the  first  person  (without  dialogue)  by   Candl, 
Mahisa,  Candl's  handmaids  Jaya  and  Vijaya,    Siva,   Karttikeya, 
the   gods   and   demons — and   even  by   the   foot  and  toe-nails  of 
Candl!  Bana  has  none  of  Mayura'-s  elaborate  similes,    but   puns* 
are   of   frequent   occurrence   and   are   carried   to   the  extent  of 
involving  interpretation  of  entire  individual  stanzas  in  two  ways. 
There   is   an   equally   marked   tendency   towards   involved    and 
recondite  constructions,   but  the  stylistic  devices  and  love  of 
conceits  are  perhaps  more  numerous  and   prominent.     The   work 
has   ali   the   reprehensible   features   of   the  verbal  bombast  with 
which  Bana  himself  characterises  the  style  of  the  Gaudas.    Even 
the  long-drawn-out  and  never  sluggish  melody  of   its   voluminous 
metre  does  not  fully  redeem  its  artificialities  of  idea  and  express- 
ion,   while   the  magnificent    picturesqueness,  which  characterises 
Bana's  prose  works,  is  not  much  in  evidence  here.     To  a  greater 
extent   than   Mayura's   Sataka,   it  is  a  poetical  curiosity   rather 
than  a  real  poem ;   but   it   is   an   interesting   indication  of   the 
decline  of  poetic  taste   and   growing   artificiality   of  poetic  form, 
which  now  begin  to  mark  the  growth  of  the  Kavya. 

One  of  Baja^ekhara's  eulogistic  stanzas  quoted  in  the  Sukti- 
muktavall  (iv.  70)  connects  Bana  and  Mayura  with  Matanga  (v.  I. 
Candala)  l  Div&kara  as  their  literary  rival  in  the  court  of  king 
Har?a.  Nothing  remains  of  his  work  except  four  stanzas  quoted 
in  the  Subhasitavali,  of  which  one  (no.  2546),  describing  the  sea- 
girdled  earth  successively  as  the  grandmother,  mother,  spouse  and 
daughter-in-law,  apparently  of  king  Harsa,  has  been  censured  for 
inelegance  by  Abhinavagupta.  It  has  been  suggested 2  that  the 

J    The  G08  edition    (Baroda  1938,  p.  45)  reads  Candala,  without  any  variant,  but  with 
the  note  that  the  reading  Matanga  is  found  in    SP.    Apparently     the  latter  reading  is 


1    F.  Hall,  introd.  to  Vasavadatta,  Calcutta  1859,  p.   21,  and  Maxmuller,  India,  p.  880, 

note  5. 


poet  should  be  identified  with  Manatunga,  the  well  known  Jaina 
Scarya  and  author  of  two  Stotras  (namely,  the  Bhaktamara  l  in 
Sanskrit  and  Bhayahara  2  in  Prakrit),  on  the  ground  that  some 
Jaina  tales  of  miracles  3  connect  him  with  Bana  and  Mayura. 
But  the  evidence  is  undoubtedly  weak,4  and  the  presumption  that 
the  three  Stotras  of  Bana,  Mayura  and  this  poet  were  meant 
respectively  to  celebrate  sun-worship,  Saktism  and  Jainism 
is  more  schematic  than  convincing.  The  date  of  Manatuiiga 
is  uncertain ;  the  Jaina  monastic  records  place  him  as  early 
as  the  3rd  century  A.D.,  but  other  traditions  bring  him  down 
to  periods  between  the  5th  and  the  9th  century  A.D.  There 
is  little  basis  of  comparison  between  Manatunga's  Stotra  and 
the  Satakas  of  Bana  and  Mayura.  It  consists  of  44  or  48 
stanzas,  in  the  lighter  and  shorter  Vasantatilaka  metre,  in  praise 
of  the  Jina  Rsabha  as  the  incomparable  and  almost  deified 
saint ;  but  it  is  not  set  forth  in  the  A3ir  form  of  Bana  and 
Mayura's  Satakas,  being  directly  addressed  to  the  saint.  It 
is  in  the  ornate  manner,  but  it  is  much  less  elaborate,  and  the 
rhetorical  devices,  especially  punning,  are  not  prominent.  Its 
devotiorial  feeling  is  unmistakable,  but  there  is  little  that  is 
distinctive  in  its  form  and  content.5 

To  the  king-poet  Harsavardhana  himself  are  ascribed, 
besides  the  three  well  known  plays,  some  Buddhist  Stotras  of 
doubtful  poetical  value,  if  not  of  doubtful  authorship.  Of  these, 

1  Ed.  Kavyamala,   Gucchaka   vii,  pp    1-10;  also  ed.  and  trs.  H.  Jacob!  in  Ind.  Stud., 
XIV,  p.  359f.    The  title  is  suggested  by  the  opening  words  of  the  poera. 

2  Addressed  to  Jina   ParSvanatha,  hut  the   work   is  not  yet   printed.    In   1309  A.D. 
Jinaprablia  Suri  wrote  a  commentary  on  it  (Peterson,  Report  1882-83,  p.  52). 

3  The  legend  of  the  Jina's  delivering  Manatunga  from   his  self-imposed  fetters,  on  the 
parallel  of  Ca^di's  healing  the   self-amputated   limbs  of  Bana,  is     probably  suggested  by  the 
general  reference  in  the  poem  itself  to  the  Jioa's  power,  apparently  in  a  metaphorical  sense, 
of  releasing  the  devotee  from  fetters. 

4  See  Quackenbos,  op.  cif.,  p.  10f. 

6  The  later  Jaina  Stotras,  in  spite  of  their  devotional  importance,  are  not  of  much 
literary  value;  see  Winterniti,  HI Lt  II,  p.  55lf.  Even  the  Kalyana-mandira  Stotra  (ed. 
Kavyamala  and  Ind.  Stud.,  loc.  cit.)  of  Siddbasena  Divakara  is  a  deliberate  and  much  more 
laboured  imitation  of  the  Bhaktamara  in  the  same  metre  and  same  number  (44)  of  stanzas. 


the  Suprabha  or  Suprabhata  Stotra,1  recovered  in  Sanskrit,  is 
a  morning  hymn  of  twenty-four  stanzas  addressed  to  the  Buddha, 
in  the  Malini  metre.  About  a  dozen  occasional  stanzas,  chiefly  of 
an  erotic  character,  but  of  a  finer  quality  than  the  Stotra, 
are  assigned  to  Harsa  in  the  anthologies,  in  addition  to  a  large 
riumber  which  can  be  traced  mainly  in  the  Ratnavall  and  the 


One  of  the  most  remarkable  offshoots  of  the  literature  of 
this  period  is  represented  by  a  group  of  Kalidasa's  direct  and 
impressive  poetical  descendants,  who  made  it  their  business  to 
keep  up*  the  tradition  of  the  sustained  and  elevated  poetical  com- 
position, known  in  Sanskrit  as  the  Mahakavya,  but  who  develop- 
ed and  established  it  in  such  a  way  as  to  stereotype  it  for  all 
time  to  come.  The  impetus,  no  doubt,  came  from  Kalidasa's  two 
so-called  Mahakavyas,  but  the  form  and  content  of  the  species 
were  worked  out  in  a  different  spirit.  It  would  be  unhistorical 
in  this  connexion  to  consider  the  definitions  of  the  Mahakavya 
given  by  the  rhetoricians^8  for  none  of  them  is  earlier  than 
Kalidasa,  and  the  question  whether  Kalidasa  conformed  to  them 

1  Ascribed  wrongly  to  king   Har^adeva  of  Kashmir  in  Bstan-hgyur  and  in  Minayeff's 
manuscripts.    It  is  given  in  extenso  by  Thomas  in  JRAS,  1903,  pp.  703-7*22  and   reproduced 
in  App.    B.    to   P.  V.    Kane's  ed.  of   Harsa-carita,  Bombay  1918.     See  Sbhv,  Introd.  under 

2  The  anthologioal  and  inscriptional  verses  ascribed   to  Harsa  are  collected  together  in 
introd.    to  PriyadamJ:at  ed.   Nariman,  Jackson   nnd   Ogden,  New  York  1923,  p.  xlivf,  and 
Thomas,  Kvs.     flee  M.L,  Ettingbausen,  Harsavardhana,  Louvain  1906,  pp.  161-79. 

3  J.  Nobel ,  The  Foundations  of  Indian  Poetry,  Calcutta  1925,  p.  140f.    The  Mahakavya 
or  '  Great  Poem  f  is  a  poetical  narrative  of  heroic  characters   and  exploits,  but  it  is  not  a  work 
of  the  type  of  the  Great  Epics,  the  Mahabharala  or  the  Ramayana,  which   correspond   to  our 
sense  of  a  heroic  poem,  but  which  are  classified  and  distinguished  as  It  hasas.    The  eminence 
denoted  by  the  prefix  '  great  '  does  not  refer  to  the  more  primitive  epic  or  heroic  spirit   nor  to 
directness   and  simplicity,  but   rather   to  the   bulk,   sustained    workmanship  and  general 
literary  competence  of  these  more  sophisticated  and  deliberate  productions.     If  an  analogy  is 
permissible,  the  Mahakavyas  stand    in  the  same  relation  to  the  Great  Epics  as  the  work  of 
Milton  does  to  that  of  Homer. 


does  not  arise.  Nor  should  the  group  of  early  poets,  with 
whom  we  are  occupied  here,  be  supposed  to  have  followed  them. 
On  the  contrary,  the  norm,  which  even  the  two  earliest  rhetori- 
cians, Bhamaha  (i.  19-23)  and  Dandin  (i.  14-19),  lay  down 
appears  to  have  been  deduced  from  the  works  of  these  poets 
themselves,  especially  from  those  of  Bharavi,  the  main  features 
of  which  are  generalised  into  rules  of  universal  application. 
As  such,  the  definitions  are,  no  doubt,  empirical,  but  they  deal 
with  accidents  rather  than  with  essentials,  and  do  not  throw 
much  light  upon  the  historical  or  poetic  character  of  these 

Perhaps  for  this  reason,  Vamana  (i.  3.  22)  brushes  aside 
the  definitions  as  of  no  special  interest ;  but  it  is  important  to 
note  that  the  rather  extensive  analysis  of  Rudrata  (xyi.  7-19), 
more  than  that  of  earlier  rhetoricians,  emphasises  at  least  one 
interesting  characteristic  of  the  Mahakavya,  as  we  know  them, 
when  it  prescribes  the  rules  for  the  development  of  the  theme. 
Like  his  predecessors,  he  speaks  indeed  of  such  formal  require- 
ments as  the  commencement  of  the  poem  with  a  prayer,  blessing 
or  indication  of  content,  the  pursuit  of  the  fourfold  ends  of 
life  (conduct,  worldly  success,  love  and  emancipation),  the 
noble  descent  of  the  hero,  the  occurrence  of  sentiments  and 
ornaments,  the  division  into  cantos,  the  change  of  metre  at 
the  end  of  each  canto,  and  so  forth  ;  but  he  also  gives  a  list  of 
diverse  topics  which  may  be  introduced  into  the  main  narrative. 
These  include  not  only  subjects  like  political  consultation, 
sending  of  messengers  and  spies,  encampment,  campaign  and 
triumph  of  the  hero,  but  also  descriptions  of  towns,  citizens, 
*  oceans,  mountains,  rivers,  seasons,  sunset,  moonrise,  dawn, 
sport  in  park  or  in  water,  drinking  bouts  and  amorous  dalliance. 
All  this  is,  of  course,  prescri'bed  as  it  is  found  conspicuously 
in  Bharavi  and  Magha  ;  but  Rudrata  adds  that  in  due  time 
the  poet  may  resume  the  thread  of  the  main  narrative,  implying 
thereby  that  these  descriptions,  no  matter  what  their  relevancy 
\s,  should  be  inserted  a&a  matter  of  conventional  amplification 


and  embellishment,  and  may  even  hold  up  and  interrupt  the  story 
itself  for  a  considerable  length.  This  seldom  happens  in 
Kalidasa,  in  whom  the  narrative  never  loses  its  interest  in 
subsidiary  matters  ;  but  in  Bharavi  and  Magha  these  banal 
topics,  loosely  connected  with  the  main  theme,  spread  over  at  least 
five  (iv,  v,  viii-x)  and  six  (vi-xi)  entire  cantos  respectively,  until 
the  particular  poet  has  leisure  to  return  to  his  narrative.  While 
Bhatti  is  sparing  in  these  digressions,  which  are  found  mostly 
scattered  in  cantos  ii,  x  and  xi,  Kumaradasa  devotes  consider- 
able space  to  them  (cantos  i,  iii,  viii,  ix  and  xii).  Although 
there  is,  in  these  passages,  evidence  of  fluent,  and  often  fine, 
descriptive  power,  the  inventiveness  is  neither  free  nor  fertile, 
but  moves  in  the  conventional  groove  of  prescribed  subjects  and 
ideas,  and  the  over-loading  of  the  parts  necessarily  leads  to  the 
weakening  of  the  central  argument. 

The  motive  for  such  adventitious  matter  is  fairly  obvious. 
It  is  meant  to  afford  the  poet  unchartered  freedom  to  indulge  in 
his  luxuriant  descriptive  talent  and  show  off  his  skill  and  learn- 
ing. While  it  tends  to  make  the  content  of  the  poem  rich  and 
diversified,  one  inevitable  result  of  this  practice  is  that  the  stciry 
is  thereby  pushed  into  the  backgionnd,  and  the  poetical  em- 
bellishments, instead  of  being  incidental  and  accessory,  become 
the  main  point  of  the  Mahakavya.  The  narrative  ceases  to  be 
interesting  compared  to  the  descriptive,  argumentative  or  erotic 
divagations  of  unconscionable  length  ;  there  is  abundance,  but  no 
sense  of  proportion.  The  theme,  therefore,  is  often  too  slender 
and  insignificant;  whatever  may  be  there  of  it  is  swamped 
by  a  huge  mass  of  digressive  matter,  on  which  the  poet  chiefly 
concentrates;  and  the  whole  poem  becomes,  not  an  organic 
whole,  but  a  mosaic  of  poetic  fragments,  tastelessly  cemented 

It  must  be  admitted  that  there  is  no  lack  of  interesting 
matter  in  these  Mahakavyas,  but  the  matter  is  deliberately  made 
less  interesting  than  the  manner.  The  elegant,  pseudo-heroic 
or  succulent  passages  are  generally  out  of  place,  but  they  are  an 


admirable  outlet  for  the  fantastic  fancy  and  love  of  rhetoric  and 
declamation  which  characterise  these  poets.  At  the  time  we 
have  reached,  the  stream  of  original  thought  and  feeling,  after 
attaining  its  high-water  mark  in  Kalidasa,  was  decidedly  slacken- 
ing. The  successors  of  Kalidjisa  pretend  to  hand  down  the 
tradition  of  their  predecessor's  great  achievement,  but  what  they 
lack  in  poetic  inspiration,  they  make  up  by  rhetoric  in  its  full 
and  varied  sense.  The  whole  literature  is  indeed  so  saturated 
with  rhetoric  that  everything,  more  or  less,  takes  a  rhetorical 
turn.  It  seeks  to  produce,  most  often  successfully,  fine  effects, 
not  by  power  of  matter,  but  by  power  of  form,  not  by  the  glow 
of  inspiration,  but  by  the  exuberance  of  craftsmanship  ;  and  one 
may  truly  say  that  it  is  the  age  of  cultivated  form.  If  Kalidasa 
left  Sanskrit  poetry  a  finished  body,  the  subsequent  ages  did  no 
more  than  weave  its  successive  robes  of  adornment. 

There  is,  therefore,  an  abundance  of  technical  skill — and 
technical  skill  of  no  despicable  kind — in  the  Mahakavyas  of  this 
period,  but  there  is  a  corresponding  deficiency  of  those  subtle  and 
indefinable  poetic  powers,  which  make  a  composition  vital  in  its 
appeal.  The  rhetoric,  no  doubt,  serves  its  own  purpose  in  these 
poems,  and  no  one  can  deny  its  vigour  and  variety;  but  it  never 
goes  very  far,  and  often  overreaches  itself  by  its  cleverness  and 
excess.  It  breeds  in  the  poets  an  inordinate  love  for  itself,  which 
seduces  them  to  a  prolixity,  disproportionate  to  their  theme,  and 
to  an  extravagance  of  diction  and  imagery,  unsuitable  to  their 
thought  and  emotion.  This  want  of  balance  between  matter 
and  manner,  which  is  rare  in  Kalidasa  and  which  a  true  poetic 
instinct  always  avoids,  is  very  often  prominent  in  these  lesser 
poets  ;  and  their  popularity  makes  the  tradition  long  and  deeply 
rooted  in  Sanskrit  poetical  literature.  It  degenerates  into  a 
deliberate  selection  of  certain  methods  and  means  wholly  to 
achieve  style,  and  loses  all  touch  of  spontaneity  and  naturalness. 
To  secure  strength,  needless  weight  is  superadded,  and  elasticity 
is  lost  in  harmony  too  mechanically  studied.  The  poets  are 
never  slipshod,  never  frivolous;  they  are  indeed  f ar  too  serious^  far 



too  sober  either  to  soar  high  or  dive  deep.  Theirs  is  an  equable 
merit,  producing  a  dainty  and  even  effect,  rather  than  a  throb- 
bing response  to  the  contagious  rapture  of  poetic  thought  and 
feeling.  As  they  never  sin  against  art,  they  seldom  reach  the 
heaven  of  poetry. 

Nevertheless,  the  poets  we  are  considering  are  not  entirely 
devoid  of  purely  poetic  merit,  even  if  they  are  conscious  and 
consummate  artists.  The  period,  as  we  see  it,  is  neither  sterile 
nor  inanimate,  nor  is  it  supported  by  the  prestige  of  a  single 
name.  It  is  peopled  with  striking  figures;  and,  apart  from 
smaller  poems  of  which  we  have  spoken,  the  body  of  larger  works 
produced  is  fairly  extensive  in  quantity  and  not  negligible  in 
quality.  Even  if  they  do  not  reach  the  highest  level,  it  is  not 
necessary  to  belittle  them.  The  qualities  of  the  literature  may 
not  awn  ken  the  fullest  critical  enthusiasm,  but  it  is  certainly 
marked  by  sustained  richness  and  many-sided  fullness.  Of  the 
four  greater  poets  of  this  period,  namely,  Bharavi,  Bhatti, 
Kunmradasa  and  Magha,  it  is  curious  that  we  possess  only  a  single 
work  of  each.  It  is  not  known  whether  they  wrote  more  works 
than  what  have  survived.  The  verses  quoted  from  these  poets 
in  the  anthologies  and  rhetorical  works  are  generally  traceable 
in  their  extant  poems  ;  but  in  view  of  the  uncertain  and  fluctua- 
ting character  of  these  attributions,  the  surplus  of  untraceable 
verses  need  not  prove  loss  of  other  works  which  they  are  conjec- 
tured to  have  written.  While  Bharavi  and  Magha  select  for 
their  themes  particular  episodes  of  the  Mahabharata,  Bhatti  and 
Kumaradasa  conceive  the  more  ambitious  project  of  rehandling  the 
entire  story  of  the  Ramayana.  All  the  four  agree  in  choosing  a 
heroic  subject  from  the  Epics  but  their  inspiration  is  not  heroic, 
and  their  treatment  has  little  of  the  simplicity  and  directness, 
as  well  as  the  vivid  mythological  background,  of  the  Epics. 

a.     Bharavi 

Of  the   composers     of     the     Mahakavya     who     succeeded 
Kalidasa,    Bharavi    is  perhaps  the  earliest  and     certainly  the 



foremost.  All  that  is  known  of  him  is  that  he  must  be  placed 
much  earlier  than  634  A.D.,  at  which  date  he  had  achieved 
poetic  fame  enough  to  be  mentioned  with  Kalidasa  in  the 
Aihole  inscription  of  Pulakegin  II.1  As  the  inscription  belongs 
to  the  same  half-century  as  that  in  which  Bana  flourished,  Baiia's 
silence  about  Bharavi 's  achievement  is  somewhat  extraordinary  ; 
but  it  need  not  be  taken  to  imply  Bbaravi's  contemporaneity  or 
nearness  of  time  to  Bana. 

The  subject-matter  of  the  Kiratarjuniya  2  of  Bharavi  is 
derived  from  one  of  the  episodes  of  Arjuna 's  career  described  in 
the  Vana-parvan  of  the  Mahabharata*  Under  the  vow  of  twelve 
years'  exile  the  Pandavas  had  retired  to  the  Dvaita  forest, v  where 
the  taunt  and  instigation  of  DraupadI,  supported  by  the  vehe- 
ment urging  of  Bhlma,  failed  to  move  the  scrupulous  Yudhisthira 
to  break  the  pledge  and  wage  war.  The  sage  Vyasa  appears,  and 
on  his  advice  they  move  to  the  Kamyaka  forest,  and  Arjuna  sets 
out  to  win  divine  weapons  from  Siva  to  fight  the  Kauravas. 
Indra,  in  the  guise  of  a  Brahman  ascetic,  is  unable  to  dissuade 
Arjuna,  but  pleased  with  the  hero's  firmness,  reveals  himself  and 
wishes  him  success.  Arjuna's  austerities  frighten  the  gods,  on 
whose  appeal  Siva  descends  as  a  Kirata,  disputes  with  him  on 
the  matter  of  killing  a  boar,  and,  after  a  fight,  reveals  his  -true 
form  and  grants  the  devotee  the  desired  weapons.  This  small 
,and  simple  epic  episode  is  selected  for  expanded  and  embellished 
treatment  in  eighteen  cantos,  with  all  the  resources  of  a  refined 
and  elaborate  art.  Bharavi  adheres  to  the  outline  of  the  story, 

1  For  the  alleged  relation  of  Bharavi  and  Dan<Jin,  see  8.  K.  De  in  IHQ,  I,  1925,  p.  81  f , 
III,  1927,  p.  396;  also  G.  Harihara  Sastri  in  IHQ,  111,  1927,  p.  169  f,  who  would  place 
Bharavi  and  Dandin  at  the  close  of  the  7th  century.  The  quotation  of  a  pada  of  Kirata  XIII. 
14  in  the  Kattka  on  Pan,  i.  3,  23,  pointed  out  by  Kielhorn  (IA,  XIV,  p.  327),  does  not  advatce 
the  solution  of  the  question  further. 

*  Ed.  N.  B.  Godabole  and  K.  P.  Parab,  with  the  comm.  of  Mallinatha,  NSP,  Bombay 
1885  (6th  ed.  1907);  only  i-iii,  with  the  cojmm.  of  Citrabhanu,  ed.  T.  Gnnaputi  Sastri, 
Trivandrum  Skt.  Ser.,  1918;  trs.  into  German  by  C.  Cappeller  in  Harvard  Orient.  Ser.,  xv, 

3  Bomb,  ed.,  Hi.  27-41. 


but  he  fills  it  up  with  a  large  mass  o(  matter,  some  of  which  have 
hardly  any  direct  bearing  on  the  theme.  The  opening  of  the  poem 
with  the  return  of  Yudhisthira's  spy,  who  comes  with  the  report  of 
Suyodhana's  beneficient  rule,  at  once  plunges  into  the  narrative, 
but  it  also  supplies  the  motive  of  the  following  council  of  war  and 
gives  the  poet  an  opportunity  of  airing  his  knowledge  of  statecraft. 
The  elaborate  description  of  autumn  and  the  Himalayas,  and  of 
the  amorous  sports  of  the  Gandharvas  and  Apsarases  in  land  and 
water,  repeated  partially  in  the  following  motif  of  the  practice  of 
nymphal  seduction  upon  the  young  ascetic,  is  a  disproportionate 
digression,  meant  obviously  for  a  refined  display  of-  descriptive 
powers.  Apart  from  the  question  of  relevancy,  Bharavi's 
flavoured  picture  of  amorous  sports,  like  those  of  Magha  and 
others  who  imitated  him  with  greater  gusto  and  created  a 
tradition,  is  graceless  in  one  sense  but  certainly  graceful  in 
another ;  and  there  is,  in  his  painting  of  natural  scenery,  a 
real  feeling  for  nature,  even  if  for  nature  somewhat  tricked  and 
frounced.  The  martial  episode,  extending  over  two  cantos,  of 
the  rally  of  Siva's  host  under  Skanda's  leadership  and  the  fight 
with  magic  weapons,  is  not  derived  from  the  original ;  but,  in 
spite  of  elaborate  literary  effort,  the  description  is  rather  one  of  a 
combat  as  it  should  be  conducted  in  artificial  poetry,  and  the 
mythical  or  magical  elements  take  away  much  of  its  reality. 

Bharavi's  positive  achievement  has  more  often  been  belittled 
than  exaggerated  in  modern  times.  Bharavi  shares  some  of  the 
peculiarities  of  his  time  and  falls  into  obvious  errors  of  taste, 
but  in  dealing  with  his  poetry  the  literary  historian  need  not  be 
wholly  apologetic.  His  attempt  to  accomplish  astonishing  feats 
of  verbal  jugglery  in  canto  xv  (a  canto  wliich  describes  a  battle  I)1 

1  The  puerile  tricks  of  Citra-bandha,  displayed  in  this  canto,  are  said  to  have  originated 
from  the  art  of  arraying  armies  in  different  forms  iu  the  battle-field  1  Bat  it  is  more  plausible 
that  they  arose  from  the  practice  of  writing  inscriptions  on  swords  aod  leaves.  They  are 
recognised  for  the  first  time  by  Da^in  ;  but  Magha  appears  to  regard  ^them  (xix.41)  as  indis- 
pensable in  a  Mahakavja.  Rudra^a  deals  with  them  in  sutne  detail,  but  they  are  discredited 
by  Inandavardhana,  suffered  by  Mammata  io  deference  to  poetic  practice,  and  summarily 
rejected  by  ViSvanatba. 


by  a  singular  torturing  of  the   language   is   an   instance   of   the 
worst  type  of  tasteless  artificiality,   which  the   Sanskrit  poet 
is  apt  to  commit ;    but  it  must  have  been  partly  the  fault  of    his 
time  that  it  liked  to  read  verses  in  which  all  or  some  of   the  feet 
are  verbally  identical,  in  which   certain   vocables  or  letters  are 
exclusively  employed,  in  which  the  lines  or   feet   read   the   same 
backwards  or  forwards,  or  in  a  zigzag  fashion.     One  never  meets 
with  such  excesses  in  Kalidasa  ;  it  is  seen  for   the    first    time   in 
Bharavi,     We  cannot   be  sure,  however,    if   Bbaravi   originated 
the  practice ;  the  deplorable  taste  might   have   developed   in   the 
interval ;  but  there  can  be  no  doubt  that  Bharavi    succumbed  to 
what  was  probably  a  powerful  temptation  in  his  day  of  rhetorical 
display  ingeneral  and  of  committing  these  atrocities  in  particular, 
'His  pedantic  observation  of  grammar,    his   search   for  recondite 
vocabulary,  his  conscious  employment  of  varied  metres  are  aspects 
of  the  same  tendency  towards  laboured  artificiality.     His  subject, 
though  congenial,  is   not  original;   it    is   capable  of   interesting 
treatment,  but  is  necessarily  conditioned  by  its  mythical   charac- 
ter, and  more  so  by  Bharavi's  own  idea  of  art.    But  these  patent, 
though  inexcusable,  blemishes,  which  Bharavi  shares  with  all  the 
Mahakavya  writers  of  this  period,  do  not  altogether  render  nuga- 
tory his  great,  though  perhaps  less  patent,  merits  as   a    poet   and 


Bharavi  as  a  poet  and  artist  is  perhaps  not  often  first-rate, 
but  he  is  never  mediocre.  It  is  seldom  that  he  attains  the  full, 
hauntifig  grace  and  melody  of  Kalidasa's  poetry,  but  he  possesses 
not  a  little  of  Tvalidasa's  charm  of  habitual  ornateness,  expressed 
with  frequent  simplicity,  force  and  beauty  of  phrase  and  image. 
There  are  occasional  bursts  of  rare  and  elsewhere  unheard  music, 
but  what  distinguishes  Bharavi  is  that,  within  certain  narrow  but 
impregnable  limits,  he  is  a  master  of  cultivated  expression..  He 
has  the  disadvantage  of  comi-ng  after  and  not  in  the  first  flush  of  the 
poetic  energy  of  the  age;  his  poetry  is  more  sedate,  more  weighted 
with  learning jjid  technique;  but,  barring  deliberaii^rtificialities, 
he  is  seldom  fantastic  to  frigidity  or  meditative  to  dulness. 


Bharavi 's  subject  does  not  call  for  light  treatment. 
With  his  command  of  polished  and  stately  phrase,  he  is  quite 
at  home  in  serious  and  elevated  themes ;  but  the  softer  graces 
of  his  style  and  diction  are  also  seen  in  the  elegant  effect  which 
he  imparts  to  the  somewhat  inelegant  episode,  not  on  love,  but 
on  the  art  of  love,  which  is  irrelevantly  introduced,  perhaps 
chiefly  for  this  purpose.  The  beauty  of  nature  and  of  maidens 
is  an  ever  attractive  theme  with  the  Sanskrit  poets, 
but  even  in  this  sphere  which  is  so  universally  cultivated, 
Bharavi's  achievement  is  of  no  mean  order.  Bharavi's 
metrical  form  is  also  skilled  and  developed,  but  his  practice  is 
characterised  by  considerable  moderation.  He  employs  about 
twenty-four  different  kinds  of  metre  in  all,  most  of  which, 
however,  are  sporadic,  only  about  twelve  being  principally 
employed.1  Like  Kalidasa  in  his  two  Mabakavyas,  he  employs 
mostly  short  lyrical  measures,  which  suit  the  comparative 
ease  of  his  manner,  and  avoids  larger  stanzas  which  encourage 
complexities  cf  expression.  There  is,  therefore,  no  unnecessary 
display  of  metrical  skill  or  profusion,  nor  any  desire  for  unlimited 
freedom  of  verse.  He  gives  us,  in  general,  a  flawless  and 
equable  music,  eminently  suited  to  his  staid  and  stately  theme ; 
but  there  is  not  much  of  finer  cadences  or  of  more  gorgeous 

Bharavi's  strength,  however,  lies  more  in  the ^  descriptive 
and  the  argumentative  than  in  the  lyric  touch ;  and  this  he 
attains  by  his  undoubted  power  of  phraseology,  which  is  indeed 
not  entirely  free  from  indulgence  in  far-fetched  conceits,  but 
which  is  never  over-gorgeous  nor  over-stiff.  His  play  of  fancy 
is  constant  and  brilliant,  but  there  is  always  a  calm  and  refined 
dignity  of  diction.  Bharavi  has  no  love  for  complicated 

1  In  each  of  cantos  v  and  xviii,  we  find  sixteen  different  kinds  of  metre,  but  Bharavi 
does  not  favour  much  the  use  of  rare  or  difficult  metres  Thj  only  metres  of  this  kin  I,  which 
occur  but  on'y  once  eacSi,  are  J.iloddli-itagiti.  Jalidhiramala,  Candrika,  Mattamayiha, 
Kutila  and  Vaqis'.ipiitrapatita.  H«  mes,  however,  Vaita'Iya  in  ii,  Pramitaksara  in  iv, 
Prabars-m  in  vii,  Svagata  in  ix,  Pu$pitagra  iu  x,  Udgua  in  xii  and  Aupacchandasika  ia  xiii. 


compounds  ;  bis  sentences  are  of  moderate  length  and  reasonably 
clear  and  forceful  ;  there  is  no  perverse  passion   for   volleys   of 

for  abundance  of   laboured  adjectives,  or 

for  complexities  of  tropes  and  comparisons.  He  has  the  faculty 
of  building  up  a  poetical  argument  or  a  picture  by  a  succession 
of  complementary  strokes,  not  added  at  haphazard,  but  growing 
out  of  and  on  to  one  another  ;  the  application  has  vigour  and 
variety  and  seldom  leads  to  tedious  verbiage.  His  phrases  often 
give  a  pleasing  surprise;  they  are  expressed  with  marvellous 
brevity  and  propriety  j  it  is  impossible  to  improve  upon  them; 
to  get  something  better  one  has  to  change  the  kind. 

Bharavi's  poetry,  therefore,  is  seldom  overdressed,  but  bears 
the  charm  of  a  well-ordered  and  distinctive  appearance.  Of  the 
remoter  and  rarer  graces  of  style,  it  cannot  be  said  there  is  none, 
but  Bharavi  does  not  suggest  much  of  them.  The  Artha-gaurava 
or  profundity  of  thought,  which  the  Sanskrit  critics  extol  in 
Bharavi,  is  the  result  of  this  profundity  of  expression  ;  but  it 
is  at  once  the  source  of  his  strength  and  his  weakness.  His 
maturity  of  expression  is  pleasing  by  its  grace  and  polish  ;  it 
is  healthful  by  its  solidity  of  sound  and  sense  ;  but  it  has  little 
of  the  contagious  enthusiasm  or  uplifting  magnificence  of  great 
poetry.  One  comes  across  fine  things  in  Bharavi,  striking, 
though  quaintly  put,  conceits,  vivid  and  graceful  images,  and 
even  some  distinctly  fascinating  expressions  ;  but  behind  every 
clear  image,  every  ostensible  thought  or  feeling,  there  are  no 
vistas,  no  backgrounds  ;  for  the  form  is  too  methodical  and  the 
colouring  too^  artificial,  Nevertheless,  Bharavi  can  refine  his 
expression  without  making  it  jejune  ;  he  can  embellish  his  idea 
without  making  it  fantastic.  His  word-music,  though  subdued, 
is  soothing  ;  his  visual  pictures,  though  elaborate,  are  convin- 
cing. If  he  walks  with  a  solemn  tread,  he  knows  bis  foothold 
and  seldom  makes  a  false  step.  In  estimating  Bharavi's 
place  in  Sanskrit  poetry,  we  must  recognise  that  he  cannot  give 
us  very  great  things,  but  what  he  can  give,  he  gives  unerringly; 
he  is  a  sure  master  of  his  own  crafty 


b.     Bhatti 

Bhatti,  author  of  the  Ravana-vadha,1  which  is  more  usually 
styled  Bhatti-kavya  presumably  after  his  name,  need  not  detain 
us  long.  The  poet's  name  itself  cannot  authorise  his  identifica- 
tion with  Vatsabhatti  of  the  Mandasor  inscription,2  nor  with 
Bhartrhari,  the  poet-grammarian.  We  are  told  in  the  concluding 
stanza  8  of  the  work  that  it  was  composed  at  Valabhi  ruled  over 
by  Srldharasena,  but  since  no  less  than  four  kings  of  this  name 
are  known  to  have  ruled  at  Valabhi  roughly  between  495  and 
641  A.D.,  Bhatfci  lived,  at  the  earliest,  in  the  beginning  of  the 
6th  century,  and,  at  the  latest,  in  the  middle  of  the  7th.4 

The  so-called  Mahakavya  of  Bhatti  seeks  to  comprehend, 
/hi  twenty  cantos,  the  entire  story  of  the  Ramayana  up  to  Kama's 
return  from  Lanka  and  coronation  ;  but  it  is  perpetrated  deli- 
berately to  illustrate  the  rules  of  grammar  and  rhetoric.  It  Is, 
in  the  words  of  the  poet  himself,  like  a  lamp  to  those  whose  eye 
is*  grammar;  but  without  grammar,  it  is  like  a  mirror  in  the 
hands  of  the  blind.  One  can,  of  course,  amiably  resolve  to  read 
the  work  as  a  poem,  ignoring  its  professed  purpose,  but  one 
will  soon  recognise  the  propriety  of  the  poet's  warning 
that  the  composition  is  a  thing  of  joy  to  the  learned,  and 
that  it  is  not  easy  for  one,  who  is  less  gifted,  to  understand 
it  without  a  commentary.  Sound  literary  taste  will  hardly 
justify  the  position,  but  there  is  not  much  in  the  work  itself 
which  evinces  sound  literary  taste. 

1  Ed.    Govinda  Sankar  Bapat,   with   comm.  of  Jayarnatigala,    NSP,  Bombay  1887 
ed.   K.   P.    Trivedi,  with  comro.  of  Mallinatha,  in   Bomb.   Skt.  Ser.,  2  vols.,  1898;  ed.  J.  N 
Tarkaratna,  with  comm.  of  JayamaAgala  and  Bbaratamallika,  2  vols.,  Calcutta  1871-78 
(reprint  of  Calcutta  ed.  in  2  vols.,  1808). 

2  As  suggested  by  B.  C.  Majumdar  in  JRAS,  1904,  p.  306f ;  see  Keith  in  JRAS,  1909, 
p.  435. 

3  The  stanza  is  not  commented  upon  by  Mallinatha. 

4  See  Hultzsch  in  ZDMG,  LXXI1,  1908,  p.  145ft    The  work  is  of  course  known  to 
Bbamaha,  but  since  Bhamaha's  date  itself  is  uncertain,  the  fact  is  not  of  much  chronological 
value.    On    the  relation  of  Bbat^i'a  treatment  of  poetic  figures  to  that   of  Bbamaha,  see 
S.  K,  De,  Santkrit  Poetict,  I,  pp.  61-57. 


Apart  from  its  grammatical  ostentation,  the  poem  suffers 
from  a  banal  theme.  Bhatti  attempts  some  diversity  by  intro- 
ducing speeches  and  conceits,  as  well  as  occasional  description  of 
seasons  and  objects,  but  the  inventions  are  negligible,  and  the 
difficult  medium  of  a  consciously  laboured  language  is  indeed  a 
serious  obstacle  to  their  appreciation.  What  is  a  more  serious 
drawback  is  that  the  poet  has  hardly  any  freedom  of  phraseology, 
which  is  conditioned  strictly  by  the  necessity  of  employing  only 
those  words  whose  grammatical  forms  have  to  be  illustrated 
methodically  in  each  stanza;  and  all  thought,  feeling,  idea  or 
expression  becomes  only  a  slave  to  this  exacting  purpose.  It 
must  be  said,  however,  to  Bhatti's  credit  that  his  narrative  flows 
undisturbed  by  lengthy  digressions ;  that  his  diction,  though 
starched  and  weighted  by  grammatical  learning,  is  without 
complexities  of  involved  construction  and  laboured  compounds; 
that,  in  spite  of  the  inevitable  play  of  word  and  thought,  there 
is  nothing  recondite  or  obscure  in  his  ideas;  and  that  his  versi- 
fication,1 though  undistinguished,  is  smooth,  varied  and  lively. 

Even  very  generous  taste  will  admit  that  here  practically 
ends  all  that  can  be  said  in  favour  of  the  work,  but  it  does  not 
very  much  improve  its  position  as  a  poem.  If  one  can  labour 
through  its  hard  and  damaiginj^^  one  will 

doubtless  find  a  glimmering  of  fine  and  interesting  things.  But 
Bhatti  is  a  writer  of  much  less  original  inspiration  than  his 
contemporaries,  and  his  inspiration  comes  from  a  direction  other  , 
than  the  purely  poetic.  The  work  is  a  great  triumph  of  artifice, 
and  perhaps  more  reasonably  accomplished  than  such  later 
triumphs  of  artifice  as  proceed  even  to  greater  excesses;  but  that  is 
a  different  thing  from  poetry.  Bhatti's  scholarliness  has  justly 
propitiated  scholars,  but  the  self-imposed  curse  of  artificiality 

1  Like  tbe  early  Mahakavya  poets,  Bhatti  limits  himself  generally  to  shorter  lyrical 
metres;  lor ger  metres  like  Mandakranta,  SardiilavikrTdita  and  fragdhara  being  used  but 
rarely.  The  £loka  (iv-ix,  xiv-xxii)  and  Upajati  i,  ii,  xi,  and  xii)  are  bis  chief  metres.  Of 
uncommon  metres,  AiSvalalita,  Nandana,  Narkutaka,  and  Prabaranakaliba  occur  only  once 


neutralises  whatever  poetic  gifts  he  really  possesses.  Pew  read 
his  worst,  but  even  his  best  is  seriously  flawed  by  his  unfor- 
tunate outlook ;  and,  unless  the  delectable  pursuit  of  poetry  ie 
regarded  as  a  strenuous  intellectual  exercise,  few  can  speak  of 
Bhatt-i's  work  with  positive  enthusiasm. 

c.     Kumaradasa 

Kumaradasa,  also  known  as  Kuinarabhatta  or  Bhatta 
Kumara,  deserves  special  interest  as  a  poet  from  the  fact  that 
he  consciously  modelled  his  Janakl-harana.1  in  form  and  spirit,  on 
the  two  Mahakavyas  of  Kalidasa,  even  to  the  extent  of  frequently 
plagiarising  his  predecessor's  ideas  and  sometimes  his  phrases. 
This  must  have  started  the  legend2  which  makes  this  great 
admirer  and  follower  of  Kalidasa  into  his  friend  and 
contemporary,  and  inspired  the  graceful  but  extravagant,  eulogy 
of  Kajasekhara,3  quoted  in  the  Sukti-muktavali  (4.  76)  of 
Jahlana.  A  late  Ceylonese  tradition  of  doubtful  value  identifies 
our  author  with  a  king  of  Ceylon,  named  Kumaradhatusena  or 
Kumaradasa  (circa  517-26  A.  D.),  son  of  Maudgalayana.  Even 
if  the  identity  is  questioned,  1  the  poet's  fame  was  certainly 
widely  spread  in  the  10th  century  ;  for  the  author  of  the  Kavya- 
mimamta  (p.  12)  refers  to  the  tradition  of  the  poet's  being  born 

1  Reconstructed  and  edited  (with  the  Sinhalese  Sauna),  cantos  i-xv  and  one  verse  of  xxv, 
by  Dharmarama  Sthavira,  in  Sinhalese  characters,  Colombo  1891 ;  the  same  prepared  in 
Devanagarl,  by  Haridas  Fastri,  Calcutta  1893;  i-x,  ed.  G.  R.  Nandargikar,  Bombay  1907 
(the  ed.  utilises  some  Devanagarl  Mss,  but  most  of  these  appear  to  owe  their  origin  to  the 
Sinhalese  source);  xvi,  ed.  L.  D.  Barnett  from  a  Malay  alam  Ms  in  BSOS9  IV,  p.  285f, 
(Roman  text\  to  wl»i  h  addl.  readings  furnished  from  a  Madras  Ms  by  S.  K.  Be  in  BSOS, 
IV,  p.  611f. 

2  Rhys  Davids  in  JRAS,  1888,  pp.   148-49. 

3  The  stanza  punningly  states  that  no  one,  save  Kumaradasa,  would  dare  celebrate    the 
abduction  of  Slta  (Janakl-harana)  when  Raghuvamta  was  current,  as  no  one  but  Ravana  would 
dare  accomplish  the  deed  when  Raghu's  dynasty  existed. 

4  Keith  in  JRAS,  1901,  p.    578f.   Nandargikar,   Kumaradasa  and  his  Place  in  Skt.  Lit. % 
Poona  1008,  argues  for   a  date  between    the  last   quarter  of  the  8th  and   the  first    quarter  of 
the  9th  century   A.  D.,   which  seem*  quite  reasonable.    RajasVkhara  (Kdvya-mimdinsd  ed. 
&OS,  1916,  p.  26)  quotes  anonymously  Janaki* harana,  xii.  37  (madarp  navai$varya). 

2f_ 1343B 


blind,  and   Kumaradasa's  stanzas   are   quoted   in   the   Sanskrit 
anthologies  dating  from  about  the  same  time.1 

The  entire  Sanskrit  text  of  the  Janahi-harana  has  not  yet 
been  recovered,  but  the  Sinhalese  literature  has  preserved  a 
Sanna  or  word-for-word  gloss  of  the  first  fourteen  cantos  and  of 
the  fifteenth  in  part,2  which  brings  the  story  down  to  Angada's 
embassy  to  the  court  of  Eavana.  From  this  gloss  it  has  been 
possible  to  piece  together  a  text,  which  is  perhaps  not  a  perfect 
restoration,  but  which  cannot  diverge  very  far  from  the 
original.8  The  extent  of  the  original  work  is  not  known,  but  since 
the  gloss  also  preserves  the  colophon  and  the  last  stanza  of 
canto  xxv,  giving  the  name  of  the  work  and  the  author,  it  is 
probable  that  the  poem  concluded  with  the  theme  of  Rama's 
coronation  apparently  bandied  in  this  canto.  If  this  is 
correct,  then  it  is  remarkable  that  Kumaradasa's  poem 
exactly  coincides,  in  the  extent  of  its  subject-matter,  with 
the  work  of  Bhatti.4  Like  the  Ravana-vadha,  again,  the 
Janakt-hararia  suffers  from  a  banal  theme  derived  from  the  Epic, 
although  Kumaradasa's  object  and  treatment  are  entirely 
different.  In  the  handling  of  the  story,  Kumaradasa  follows  his 
original  fairly  faithfully  ;  but,  for  diversity,  poetical  descriptions 
and  episodes  are  freely  introduced.  In  the  first  canto,  for 
instance,  a  picture  of  Ayodhya,  which  is  rivalled  by  the  account 
of  Mithila  in  canto  vi,  is  given,  while  the  sports  of  Da^aratha 

1  For  the  citations  see  Thomas,  Kvs.  pp,  84-36.  K§emendra  in  bis  Aucitya-vicara* 
(ad  24)  wrongly  ascribes  a  stanza  to  Kumaradasa,  of  which  one  foot  ia  already*  quoted  bj 
Pitaftjali.  Whether  the  poet  knew  the  Katika  (circa  650  A-D.)  is  debatable  (see  Thomas  in 
JRAS,  1901,  p.  266) ;  and  Vamana's  prohibition  (v.  1.5)  of  the  use  of  khalu  has  no  particulai 
reference  to  Kumaradasa.  These  and  such  other  references  are  too  indefinite  to  admit  ol 
any  decisive  inference. 

1  The  Madras  Ms  existing  in  the  Govt.  Orient.  Mas  Library,  contains  twentj 
cantos,  but  it  is  a  very  corrupt  transcript  of  an  unknown  original,  and  it  ia  not 
known  how  far  it  is  derived  ultimately  from  the  Sinhalese  Sanna.  The  last  verae  of  the  Mg 
describes  Kumaradata  as  king  of  Ceylon  and  son  of  Kumaramani. 

L^|UmaDn  in  WZKM*  V1I»  1893'  PP-  226-32;  F.  W.  Thomaa  in  JRAS,  1901 
pp.  204-OQ. 

*    For  an  analysis  of  the  poem,  see  the  article  of  Thomas,  cited  above. 


and  his  wives  in  the  garden  are  described  in  canto  Hi.  We  have 
a  fine  description  of  the  rainy  season  in  canto  xi,  while  the  next 
canto  matches  it  with  a  picture  of  autumn.  In  most  of  these 
passages  the  influence  of  Kalidasa  is  transparent.  Da^aratha's 
lecture  to  Rama  on  the  duties  of  kingship  has  no  counterpart  in 
Kalidasa's  poems;  but  the  appeal  to  Visnu  in  canto  ii,  the  des- 
cription of  spring  in  canto  Hi,  the  entire  canto  viii  on  the 
dalliance  of  Kama  and  Slta  after  marriage,  and  Sita's  lovelorn 
condition  (Purva-raga)  before  marriage  in  the  preceding  canto, 
inevitably  remind  one  of  similar  passages  and  episodes  in  Kalidasa's 
two  poems.  But  these  digressions  are  neither  too  prolix  nor  too 
numerous^  and  the  interest  of  the  narrative  is  never  lost.  In 
this  respect  Kuinaradasa  follows  the  manner  of  Kalidasa  rather 
than  that  of  Bharavi,  and  has  none  of  the  leisurely  and  extended 
scale  of  descriptive  and  erotic  writing  which  prevails  in  the  later 

The  incomplete  and  not  wholly  satisfactory  recovery  of 
Kumaradasa's  work  makes  it  difficult  to  make  a  proper  estimate ; 
but  the  remark  is  not  unjust  that  the  Janaki-harana,  as  a  poemA 
is  more  artificial  than  the  Raghu-varriSa  and  the  Kumara- 
sambhava,  perhaps  more  than  the  Kiratarjuniya,  but  it  does  not 
approach,  in  content,  form  and  diction,  the  extravagance  of 
the  later  Kavya.  Some  of  Kumaradasa's  learned  refinements 
take  the  form  of  notable  grammatical  and  lexicographical  pecu- 
liarities, and  of  a  decided  love  for  circumlocution,  alliteration 
and  dainty  conceits,  but  none  of  these  propensities  take  an  undue 
or  elaborate  prominence.  His  metrical  skill  is  undoubted,  but 
like  Kalidasa  in  his  two  longer  poems,  he  prefers  short  musical 
metres  and  does  not  seek  the  profusion  or  elaboration  of  shifting 
or  recondite  rhythmic  forms.1  Although. Kumaradasa  has  a  weak- 
ness for  the  pretty  and  the  grandiose,  which  sometimes  strays 
into  the  ridiculous,  he  is  moderate  in  the  use  of  poetic  figures ; 
there  is  some  play  upon  words,  but  no  complex  puns. 

1    The  only  uncommon,  bat  minor*  metre  ia  Avitaiha. 


Although  Kumaradasa' s  poem  furnishes  easy  and  pleasant 
reading,  his  poetic  power  is  liable  to  be  much  overrated.  The 
compliment  which  ranks  him  with  Kalidasa,  no  doubt*  perceives 
some  superficial  similarity,  but  Kumaradasa's  originality  in 
treatment,  idea  and  expression  is  considerably  impaired  by  his 
desire  to  produce  a  counterfeit.  Possessed  of  considerable 
ability,  he  both  gains  and  loses  by  coming  after  Kalidasa.  He 
has  a  literary  tradition,  method  and  diction  prepared  for  him  for 
adroit  employment,  but  he  has  not  the  genius  to  rise  above  them 
and  strike  out  his  own  path.  With  inherited  facility  of  execu- 
tion, he  lo^es  individuality  and  distinction.  Kumaradasa  is  a 
well-bred  poet  who  follows  the  way  of  glittering,  but  not  golden, 
poetic  mediocrity  :  he  is  admirable  but  not  excellent,  learned 
but  not  pedantic,  neat  but  not  overdressed,  easy  hut  not  simple. 
He  has  a  gift  of  serviceable  rhetoric  and  smooth  prosody,  but  he 
is  seldom  brilliant  and  outstanding.  He  has  a  more  than  com- 
petent skill  of  pleasing  expression,  but  he  lacks  the  indefinable 
charm  of  great  poetry.  It  is  not  easy  to  feel  as  much  enthusiasm 
for  Kumaradasa  as  for  Bharavi ;  but  it  is  not  just  on  that  account 
to  deny  to  him  a  fair  measure,  though  by  comparison,  of  the 
extraordinarily  diffused  poetic  spirit  of  the  time. 

d.     Magha 

The  usually  accepted  date  for  Magha  is  the  latter  part  of  the 
7th  century  A.D.  The  approximation  is  reached  by  evidence 
which  is  not  altogether  uncontestable  ;  but  what  is  fairly  certain 
is  that  the  lower  terminus  of  his  date  is  furnished  by  the  quota- 
tion from  his  poem  by  Vamana  and  Anandavardhana  l  at  the  fend 
of  the  8th  .and  in  the  middle  of  the  9th  century  A.D.  respectively, 

1     Dhvany&loka,  ed.  N8P,  1911,   Second  Uddyota,  pp.  114,  115  =  <5/^u  v.  20   and  iii.    58. 
A  little  earlier  (end  of  the  8th  century)  Vatnana  quotes  from  Maghft^^ii^/?ji^l2,  16»Kdvy&L 
v.  1.10,  v,  2.10;  x.  21=*v.  1. 13;  xiv.  14=iv.  3.  jfc    MukulabhaMa^ 
(ed.  N8P,  Bombay  1916,  p.  11)  similarly  quotes- &ta°  iii,  *Q  — -^ 


and  the  upper  terminus  by  the  very  likely  presumption  that  he 
is  later  than  Bharavi  whom  he  appears  to  emulate.  There  are 
five  stanzas  appended  to  Mcigha's  poem  which  give,  in  the  third 
person,  an  account  of  his  family,  and  which  are  commented  upon 
by  Vallabhadeva,  but  not  by  Mallinatha.  From  these  verses  we 
learn  that  Magha's  father  wasDattaka  Sarvasraya,  and  his  grand- 
father Suprabhadeva  was  a  minister  of  a  king  named  Varmala. 
An  attempt  has  been  made  to  identify  this  Varmala  (v.l. 
Varmalata,  Dharmanabha  or  -natha  and  Nirmalata)  with  king 
Varmalata,  of  whom  an  inscription  of  about  625  A.D.  exists.1 
But  neither  is  this  date  beyond  question,  nor  the  identification 
beyond  all  doubt. 

Like  Bharavi,  with  whom  Magha  inevitably  invites 
comparison,  Magha  derives  the  theme  of  his  Stiupala-vadha 2 
from  a  well  known  episode  of  the  Mahabhdrata ;  8  but  the 
difference  of  the  story,  as  well  as  perhaps  personal  predilection, 
makes  Magha  glorify  Krsna,  in  the  same  way  as  Bharavi  honours 
Siva.  At  Yudhisthira's  royal  consecration,  Bhisma  advises 
the  award  of  the  highest  honour  to  Krsna,  but  Sisupala,  king  of 
the  Cedis,  raises  bitter  protest  and  leaves  the  hall.  In  the  quarrel 
which  ensues,  Sisupala  insults  Bhisma  and  accuses  Krsna  of  mean 

1  See  Kielhorn  in  Gottinger  Nachrichten,  1900,  pp.  143-46,  and  in  JRAS,  1908,  409f ; 
R.  G.  Bhandarkar,  Report  1897,  pp.  xviii,  xxxix ;  D.  R.  Bbaudarkar  in  EI9 IX,  p«  I87f ;  Pathak 
in  JBRAS,  XXIII,  pp.  18-31 ;  Kane  in  JBRA8,  XXIV,  pp.  91-95 ;  D.  C  Bhattacharyya  in  IAt 
XLVI,  1917,p.l91f;H.  Jacob!  in  WZKM,  III,  1889,  pp.  121f,  and  IV,  1890,  p.  236f ;  Klatt 
in  WZKM,  TV,  p.  61  f.  The  minor  arguments  that  Magha  knew  the  Kdsikd  or  the  Nydsa  of 
Jitendrahuddhi  (Si£u*  ii.  112)f  or  the  Ndganandaof  Harsa  (xx.  44)  are,  for  the  iniefinitenesa 
of  the  allusions,  hardly  worth  much.  The  Jaina  legends  have  bocn  invoked  to  prove  that 
Magha  was  a  contemporary  of  the  poet  Siddha  (about  905  A.D.),  but  th*  legends  only  show 
that  the  Jainaa  made  u?e  of  famous  men  ia  tlieir  anecdotes,  and  nothing  more.  More  worth- 
less is  the  Bhoja-pTabandha  account  which  makes  Magha,  as  aUo  m  my  other  poets,  a  contem- 
porary of  King  Bhoja.  The  legend  related  in  Merutunga>  Prabandha-cMamani  is  equally 
useless.  * 

8  ed.  Atmaram  Sastri  Vetal  and  J.  S.  Hosing,  with  oomm^  o  Vallabhadeva  and 
Mallinatha,  Kftshi  Skt.  Ser,  no.  69,  1929;  ed.  Durgaprasad  and  Sivadatta. 
NSP,  Bombay  1888, 9th  ed.  1927,  with  coram.  of  M&llinatha  only.  Trs.  into  German  by  E. 
Hultzsch,  Leipzig  1929,  «S|ia  ^tracts,  by  a  Cappeller  (Balamagha),  Stuttgart  1915,  with 
text  in  roraan  characters.  & 


tricks,  including  theft  of  his  affianced  bride.  Having  endured 
SiiSupala's  insolence  so  far,  on  account  of  a  promise  to  his  mother 
to  bear  a  hundred  evil  deeds  of  her  son,  Krsna  now  feels  that  he 
is  relieved  of  the  pledge,  and  severs  the  head  of  SUupala  with 
his  discus.  The  epic  story  here  is  even  simpler  and  more  devoid 
of  incidents  than  the  episode  of  Arjuna's  fight  with  the  Kirata, 
but  it  contains  a  number  of  rival  speeches,  which  give  Magha 
an  opportunity  of  poetical  excursions  into  the  realm  of  politics 
and  moralising,  vituperation  and  panegyric.  The  outline  of  the 
epic  story  is  accepted,  but  its  slenderness  and  simplicity  are  ex- 
panded and  embellished,  in  twenty  cantos,  by  a  long  series  of 
descriptive  and  erotic  passages  deliberately  modelled,  it  seems, 
upon  those  of  Bharavi,  A  variation  is  introduced  in  the  first 
canto  by  the  visit  of  Narada  to  Krsna  at  the  house  of  Vasudeva, 
with  a  message  from  Indra  regarding  the  slaying  of  Si^upala ; 
but  it  has  its  counterpart  in  Bharavi's  poem  in  the  visit  of  Vyasa 
to  Yudhis^hira.  A  similar  council  of  war  follows,  in  which 
Baladeva  advises  expedition  and  Uddhava  caution  ;  and  the  know- 
ledge of  statecraft  displayed  by  Uddhava  corresponds  to  that 
evinced  by  Bhima  in  Bharavi's  poem.  After  this,  Magha,  like 
Bharavi,  leaves  the  narrative  and  digresses  into  an  even  more 
luxuriant^  but  disproportionate,  mass  of  descriptive  matter  ex- 
tending practically  over  nine  cantos  (iv-xii),  as  against  Bharavi's 
seven.  Krsna's  journey  to  Indraprastha  to  attend  Yudhisthira's 
consecration  and  the  description  of  the  mount  Raivataka,  which 
comes  on  the  way,  correspond  to  Arjuna's  journey  and  description 
of  the  Himalayas ;  and  Magha  wants  to  surpass  Bharavi  in  the 
Display  of  his  metrical  accomplishment  by  employing  twenty- 
four  different  metres  in  canto  iv,  as  opposed  to  Bharavi's  sixteen 
in  canto  v.  The  amours  and  blandishments  of  the  Apsarases 
and  Gandharvas  in  Bharavi  are  rivelled  with  greater  elaboration 
and  succulence  Tsy  the  amorous  frolics  of  the  Yadavas  with 
women  of  fulsome  beauty ;  and  it  is  remarkable  that  in  some  of 
these  cantos  Magha  selects  the  same  metres  (Prahar§inl  and 
Svagata)  as  Bharavi  does.  Magha  makes  a  similar,  but  more 


extensive,  exhibition  of  his  skill  in  the  over-ingenious  construction 
of  verses  known  ns  Citra-bandha  (canto  xix),  and  follows  his 
predecessor  in  introducing  these  literary  acrobatics  in  the  descrip- 
tion of  the  battle,  although  the  battle-scenes  are  depicted,  in  both 
cases,  by  poets  who  had  perhaps  never  been  to  a  battle-field  ! 

It  is  clear  that  the  tradition,  for  once,  is  probably  right 
in  implying  that  Magha  composed  his  $i$upala-vadha  with  a 
view  to  surpass  Bharavi's  Kiratarjumya  by  entering  into  a  com- 
petetion  with  him  on  his  own  ground.1  The  orthodox  Indian 
•opinion  thinks  (with  a  pun  upon  their  respective  names)  that 
Magha  has  been  able  to  eclipse  Bharavi  completely,  and  even 
goes  further  in  holding  that  Magha  unites  in  himself  Kalidasa's 
power  of  metaphorical  expression,  Bharavi's  pregnancy  of  thought 
and  Dandin's  gracefulness  of  diction.  While  making  allowance 
for  exaggeration  not  unusual  in  such  indiscriminate  praise,  and 
also  admitting  freely  that  Magha  can  never  be  mentioned  lightly 
by  any  one  who  loves  Sanskrit  poetry,  it  is  difficult  for  a  reader 
of  the  present  day  to  share  this  high  eulogy.  Magha's  deliberate 
modelling  of  his  poem  on  that  of  Bharavi,  with  the  purpose 
of  outdoing  his  predecessor,  considerably  takes  away  his  original- 
ity, and  gives  it  the  appearance  of  a  tremendous  effort.)  He  can 
claim  the  literary  merits  of  Bharavi,  but  he  also  exaggerates 
some  of  Bharavi's  demerits.  In  respect  of  rhetorical  skill  and 
exuberance  of  fancy,  Magha  is  not  unsuccessful,  and  may  have 
even  surpassed  Bharavi;  but  the  remark  does  not  apply  in  respect 
of  real  poetic  quality,  although  it  would  not  be  just  to  deny  to 
him  a  gift,  even  by  comparison,  of  real  poetry. 

But  Magha's  work,  though  not   great,    has  been   distinctly 
undervalued  in  modern  times,  as  it  was   once  overvalued.    It  is 

The  question  of  Magha  s  ralationship  to  Bharavi  has  been  discussed  by  Jacob!  (in 
WZKM>llltm$t  pp.  121-40)  by  a  detailed  examination  of  the  structure  of  the  two  poeuas, 
their  form, content  and  parallel  passages,  with  the  conclusion  that  Bharavi's  poem  served  as 
a  model  for  that  of  Magha.  Jaoobi  (p.  141  f.)  further  wants  to  show  that  Bana  and 
Subandhu  borrowed  from  M&gba,  but  the  parallelisms  adduced  are  not  definite  enough  to  be  of 


impossible  to  like  or  admire  Magha  heartily,  and  yet  there  are 
qualities  which  draw  our  reluctant  liking  and  admiration.  His 
careful  and  conscientious  command  of  rhetorical  technique  is 
assured.  He  has  an  undoubted  power  of  copious  and  elegant 
diction,  and  his  phraseology  and  imagery  often  attain  a  fine, 
though  limited,  perfection.  OHis  sentences  have  movement,  ease 
and  balance  ;  and  the  variety  of  short  lyrical  metres,1  which  he 
prefers,  gives  his  stanzas  swing  and  cadence.  Magha  himself 
tells  us  that  a  good  poet  should  have  regard  for  sound  and  sense, 
and  so  he  cultivates  both.  Like  Bharavi,  he  is  a  lover  of  har- 
monic phrases  and  master  of  cultivated  expression,  but  he  is 
perhaps  more  luxuriant,  more  prone  to  over-colouring,  and  more 
consciously  ingenious.  He  can  attain  profundity  by  a  free 
indulgence  in  conceit,  but  he  is  never  abstruse.  Fine  felicities 
or  brilliant  flashes  are  not  sporadic ;  and  Magha's  faculty  of 
neat  and  pointed  phrasing  often  rounds  off  his  reflective  passages 
with  an  epigrammatic  charm.  He  does  not  neglect  sense  for 
mere  sound,  but  the  narrative  is  of  little  account  to  him,  as  to 
most  Kavya  poets  ;Cand  the  value  of  his  work  lies  in  the  series 
of  brilliant  and  highly  finished  word-pictures  he  paints}  Prom 
the  hint  of  a  single  line  in  the  Epic,  he  gives  an  elaborate  picture 
of  Yudhisthira's  consecration ;  and  he  must  bring  in  erotic 
themes  which  are  even  less  relevant  to  his  subject  than 
that  of  Bharavi.  In  his  poetry  the  Sastric  learning  and 
the  rhetorical  art  of  the  time  come  into  full  flower,  but  it 
lacks  the  flush  and  freshness  of  natural  bloom.)  |  At  every  step 
we  go,  we  are  stopped  to  admire  some  elegant  object,  like 
walking  in  a  carefully  trimmed  garden  with  a  guide.  \  Magha 
can  make  a  clever  use  of  his  knowledge  of  grammar,  lexicon, 
statecraft,  erotics  and  poetics  ;  he  can  pour  his  Jancy  into  a 
faultless  mould ;  but  it  is  often  an  uninspired  and  uninspiring 
accomplishment.  He  would  like  to  raise  admiratioa  to  its 

1  On  metres  which  Magha  employs!  see  Belloai-Pbillipi,  La  Metrica  degli  Indi, 
Fiwnze  1912,  ii,  p.  55;  Keith,  HSLt  pp.  ld'j-31-  On  metrical  licences  of  Magha,  see 
F*cobi  in  Ind.  Stud,  xvii,  p.  444  f.  and  in  Verharid L  dee  V  OrientaUtten>CoHgr48g,  p.  136  ft 


height  in  every  line,  so  that  in  the  end  the  whole  is  not 
admirable.  Of  real  passion  and  fervour  he  has  not  much,  and 
he  does  not  suggest  much  of  the  supreme  charm  of  the  highest 
poetry ;  but  he  has  a  soft  richness  of  fancy,  which  often  inclines 
him  towards  sweetness  and  prettiness.  Like  Bharavi,  he  is  a 
poet,  not  of  love,  but  of  the  art  of  lovej  but  he  can  refine  the 
rather  indelicate  theme  of  amorous  sports  with  considerable 
delicacy.  It  is  perhaps  not  fortuitous  that  Magha  selects  Krsna, 
and  not  Siva,  as  his  favourite  god.  The  Indian  opinion  speaks 
highly  of  his  devotional  attitude,  and  Blrisma's  panegyric  of 
Krsna,  to  which  Bharavi  has  nothing  corresponding,  is  often 
praised;  but  one  at  once  observes  here  the  difference  in  the 
temperament  of  the  two  poets. 

There  can  be  no  doubt  that  Magha  is  a  poet,  but  his  poetic 
gift  is  considerably  handicapped  by  the  fact  that  he  is  in  verse 
a  slave,  and  a  willing  slave,  to  a  cut-and-dried  literary  conven- 
tion. He  appears  to  possess  a  great  reserve  of  power,  but  he 
never  seems  to  let  himself  go.  Tie  does  not  choose  to  seek  out  an 
original  path  for  himself,  but  is  content  to  imitate,  and  outstrip, 
if  possible,  his  predecessor  by  a  meretricious  display  of  elaborate- 
ness and  ingenuity.  The  sobriquet  Ghnnta-Magha,  which  lie  is 
said  to  have  won  by  his  clever  fancy  in  comparing  a  hill,  set  in 
the  midst  of  sunset  and  moonrise,  to  an  elephant  on  whose  two 
sides  two  bells  are  hung,  is  perhaps  appropriate  in  bringing  out 
this  characteristic ;  but  it  only  emphasises  his  rhetorical  quality, 
which  is  a  different  thing  from  the  poetical,  although  the  quaint 
simile  is  not  a  just  specimen  of  what  he  can  do  even  in  the 
rhetorical  manner.  (  Magha's  extraordinary  variety,  however, 
is  conditioned  by  corresponding  inequality.  His  poem  is  a  careful 
mosaic  of  the  good  and  the  bad  of  his  predecessors,  some  of 
whose  inspiration  he  may  have  caught,  but  some  of  whose 
mannerisms  he  develops  to  no  advantage.  Apart  from  deliberate 
absurdities,  the  appearance  of  his  poetry  is  generally  irreproach- 
able, with  its  correct  make-up,  costume  and  jewellery,  but  one 
feels  very  often  that  its  features  are  insignificant  and  its 

AJC        1O4OD 


expression  devoid  of  fire  and  air*  The  fancy  and  vividness  of 
some  of  his  pictures,  the  brilliancy  and  finish  of  his  diction 
make  one  feel  more  distinctly  what  is  not  there,  but  of  which 
Magha  is  perhaps  not  incapable.  The  extent  of  his  influence 
on  his  successors,  in  whose  estimation  he  stands  even  higher 
than  Kalidasa  and  Bharavi,  indicates  the  fact  that  it  is  Magha, 
more  than  Kalidasa  and  Bharavi,  who  sets  the  standard  of  later 
verse-making ;  but  the  immense  popularity  of  his  poem  also 
shows  that  there  is  always  a  demand  for  poetry  of  a  little  lower 
and  more  artificial  kind. 


Although  it  is  difficult  to  distinguish  between  gnomic  and 
didactic  verse,  the  two  Satakas  of  Bhartrhari  on  Niti  and 
Vairagya  may  be  taken  as  partially  typical  of  the  didactic 
spirit  and  possessing  a  higher  value  ihan,  say,  the  collection  of 
gnomic  stanzas,  which  pass  current  under  the  name  of  Canakya 
and  contain  traditional  maxims  of  sententious  wisdom.  Of  the 
pronounced  didactip  type  this  period  does  not  possess  many 
other  specimens  than  the  Satakas  of  Bharlrhari,  unless  we  regard 
the  Moha-mudgara1  for  Dvadasa-panjarika  Stotra)  as  one  of  the 
genuine  works  of  the  great  Samkara.  This  latter  work,  however, 
is  a  small  lyric,  rather  than  didactic,  outburst  of  seventeen 
stanzas,  finely  inspired  by  the  feeling  of  transitoriness  of  all 
mortal  things;  while  its  moric  Pajjhatika  metre  and  elaborate 
rhyming  give  a  swing  and  music  to  its  verses  almost  unknown 
in  Sanskrit,  and  probably  betoken  the  influence  of  Apabram&t 
or  vernacular  poetry.  As  such,  it  is  doubtful  if  it  can  be 
dated  very  early,  but  it  is  undoubtedly  a  poem  of  no  small 

The  gnomic  spirit,  however,  finds  expression  from  remote 
antiquity  in  many  aspects  of  Indian  literature.  Such  tersely 

1  Ed.  J  Haeberh'n  in  Kavya»*rpgraba,  Calcutta  1847,  p,  263f,  reprinted  in 
J.  Vidyasagar  in  Kavyasamgrahft,  Calcutta  1888,  p.  352 ;  text  and  trs.  1  y  P.  Neve  in  JAt  xii, 
P.  607f.  For  Stotras  ascribed  io  Saipkara,  see  below  under  cb,  VI  (PevofcionaJ  Poetry). 


epigrammatic  sayings,  mostly  composed  in  the  Sloka  metre, 
appear  in  the  Niti  sections  of  the  two  great  Epics,  in  the 
Puranas,  in  the  law-books  and  in  the  tales  and  fables,  while  some 
of  the  earlier  moral  stanzas  occurring  in  the  Brahmanas  perhaps 
helped  to  establish  the  tradition  in  the  later  non-Sanskritic 
Buddhist  and  Jaina  literature.  But  the  stanzas  are  mostly 
scattered  and  incidental,  and  no  very  early  collection  has  come 
down  to  us,  although  the  Mahabharata  contains  quite  rich 
masses  of  them  in  the  Santi,  Anusasana,  Prajagara.  section  of  the 
Udyoga  and  other  Parvans.  That  a  large  number  of  such  stanzas 
formed  a  part  of  floating  literature  and  had  wide  anonymous 
currency  is  indicated  by  their  indiscriminate  appropriation 
and  repetition  in  various  kinids  of  serious  and  amusing 
works  mentioned  above;  but  it  would  be  hardly  correct  to  say 
that  they  represent  popular  poetry  in  the  strict  sense  of  the  term. 
They  rather  embody  the  quintessence  of  traditional  wisdom,  the 
raw  materials  being  turned  into  finished  literary  products,  often 
adopted  in  higher  literature,  or  made  the  nucleus  of  ever-growing 
collections.  They  are  of  unknown  date  and  authorship,  being 
the  wit  of  one  and  wisdom  of  many  ;  but  they  were  sometimes 
collected  together  and  conveniently  lumped  upon  some  apocryphal 
writer  of  traditional  repute,  whether  he  £)e  Vararuci,  Vetala- 
bha^ta  or  Canakya.  But  the  collections  are  often  dynamic,  the 
process  of  addition  going  on  uninterruptedly  for  centuries  and  bring- 
ing into  existence  various  versions,  made  up  by  stanzas  derived 
from  diverse  sources.  The  content  of  such  compilations  is  thus 
necessarily  varied,  the  stanzas  being  mostly  isolated  but  some- 
times grouped  under  particular  heads,  and  embraces  not  only 
astute  observations  on  men  and  things  but  also  a  great  deal  of 
polity,  practical  morality  and  popular  philosophy.  There  is  no- 
thing deeply  original,  but  the  essential  facts  of  life  and  conduct 
are  often  expressed  with  considerable  shrewdness,  epigrammatic 
wit  and  wide  experience  of  life.  The  finish  of  the  verses  naturally 
varies,  but  the  elaborately  terse  and  compact  style  of 
expression,  sometimes  with  appropriate  antithesis,  metaphors  and 


similes,  often  produces  the  pleasing  effect  of  neat  and 
clever  rhetoric ;  and  their  deliberate  literary  form  renders  all 
theories  of  popular  origin  extremely  doubtful. 

It  is  unfortunate  that  most  of  the  early  collections  are 
lost  while  those  which  exist  are  undatable  ;  but  the  one  ascribed 
to  Canakya  and  passed  off  as  the  accumulated  sagacity  of  the  great 
minister  of  Candragupta  appears  to  possess  a  fairly  old  tradi- 
tional nucleus,  some  of  the  verses  being  found  also  in  the  Epics 
and  elsewhere.  It  exists  in  a  large  number  of  recensions,  of  which 
at  least  seventeen  have  been  distinguished,1  and  it  is  variously 
known  as  Canakya-nlti*  Ganakya-$ataka,*  Canakya-nlti-darpana,4 
Vrddha-canakya5  or  Laghu-canakya.G  The  number  of  verses  in 
each  recension  varies  considerably,  but  the  largest  recension 
of  Bhojaraja,  in  eight  chapters,  preserved  in  a  Sarada 
manuscript,  contains  576  verses  in  a  variety  of  metres,  among 
which  the  Sloka  predominates.7  Whether  the  lost  original, 
as  its  association  with  Canakya  would  imply,  was  a  deliberate 
work  on  polity  is  not  clear,  as  the  number  of  verses  devoted  to 
this  topic  in  all  recensions  is  extremely  limited  ;  but  there  can 
be  no  doubt  that,  both  in  its  thought  and  expression,  it  is  one 
of  the  richest  and  finest  collections  of  gnomic  stanzas  in  Sanskrit, 
many  of  which  must  have  been  derived  from  fairly  old  sources. 

1  Oscar  Kresaler,  Stimmen  indischer  Lebensklugheit  (Tndica,  Heft  4),  Leipzig  1907, 
pp.  38-46.  Five  recensions  (viz.)  Canakya-nlti«£astra,  Canakya-niti-^ataka  Laghu-eanakya, 
Vrddha  -canakya  and  Canakya-sloka)  are  printed  in  Roman  transliteration,  with  translation  of 
previously  unpublished  stanzas,  by  Eugene  Monseur,  Paris:  Ernest  Leroux  1887.  See  aluo 
Weber  Ind.  Streifen,  I,  pp.  253-78. 

2  Ed.  Mirzapore  1877  ;  also  a  somewhat  different  version,    ed.  Agra  1920,  mentioned  by 

3  Ed.  J.  Haeberlin,  op.  cit.9  reprinted  by  J.  Vidyasagar,  op.  cit.9  II,  p.  385f. 

*  Ed.  Mathuraprasad  Misra,  Benares  1870 ;  reprinted  many  times  at  Benares.. 

*  Ed.  Bombay  1868;  trs.  by  Kressler,  op.  cit.t  p.  151f.    It  has  840  verses  in  17  chapters 
of  equal  length, 

<  Ed.  Agra  1920,  as  above ;  also  ed.  E.  Teza  (from  Galanos  Ms),  Pisa  1878. 

7  The  other  metres  in  their  order  of  frequency  are  :  Indravajra,  SardulavikrKjita,  Vasanta* 
tilaka,  Vftms'athavila,  SikbarinI,  Arya  and  Sragdhara,  besides  sporadic  Drntavilambita, 
PuspitagrS,  Prthvl,  Mandakranta,  Maiini,  Batboddbata,  Vaitallya,  VaisVadevI,  Sftlini  and 
HarinI  See  Kressler ,  op.  cii.t  p.  48, 


Of  satire,  or  satiric  verses  in  the  proper  sense,  Sanskrit  has 
very  little  to  show.  Its  theory  of  poetry  and  complacent  attitude 
towards  life  precluded  any  serious  cultivation  of  this  type  of 
literature.  Invective,  lampoon,  parody,  mock-heroic  or 
pasquinade — all  that  the  word  satire  connotes — were  outside 
the  sphere  of  the  smooth  tenor  and  serenity  of  Sanskrit  artistic 
compositions ;  and  even  in  the  farce  and  comic  writing  the 
laughter,  mostly  connected  with  erotic  themes,  is  hardly  keen 
or  bitter.  They  may  touch  our  sense  of  comedy,  but  rarely  our 
sense  of  satire,  for  the  arrant  fools  and  downright  knaves  are 
objects  not  of  indignant  detestation  but  of  mild  ridicule.  Some 
amount  of  vivid  realism  and  satirical  portraiture  will  be  found 
in  the  early  Bhanas,  as  well  as  in  the  stories  of  Dandin,  but 
they  seldom  reac|j  the  proportion  and  propriety  of  a  real  satire. 

The  earliest  datable  work  of  an  erotico-comic,  if  not  fully 
satiric,  tendency  is  the  Kuttanl-mata1  or  'Advice  of  a  Procuress  ' 
of  Dfimodaragupta,  which  in  spite  of  its  ugly  title  and  unsavoury 
subject,  is  a  highly  interesting  tract,  almost  creating  this 
particular  genre  in  Sanskrit.  The  author  was  a  highly  respectable 
person,  who  is  mentioned  by  Kahlana  as  a  poet  and  minister 
of  Jayapida  of  Kashmir  (779-813  A.D.),  and  the  fact  that  his 
work  is  quoted  extensively  in  the  Anthologies,  as  well  as  by 
Mammata,  Hemacandra  and  others,  bears  testimony  to  its  high 
literary  reputation.  The  theme  is  slight.  A  courtesan  of 
Benares,  named  Malati,  unable  to  attract  lovers,  seeks  advice 
of  an  old  and  experienced  bawd,  Vikarala,  who  instructs  her  to 
ensnare  Cintamani,  son  of  a  high  official,  and  describes  to  her 
in  detail  the  cunning  art  of  winning  love  and  gold.  To 
strengthen  her  discourse,  Vikarala  narrates  the  story  of  the 
courtesan  Haralata  and  her  lover  Sudarsana,  in  which  the 
erotic  and  the  pathetic  sentiments  intermingle,  as  well  as  the 

1  Ed.  Durgapraaad  in  Kavyamala,  Gnochtka  iii,  NSP,  Bombay  1887;  but  with  ampler 
materials,  ed.  Tanaaukhram  Manaasukhram  Tripathi,  with  a  Sanskrit  commentary,  Botabay 
1U24.  Trs.  into  German  by  J.  J.  Meyer,  Leipzig  1903. 


tale  of  the  dancing  girl  Manjari  and  king  Samarabhata  of 
Benares,  in  which  Manjari  gives  an  enactment  of  Har§a's 
Ratndvall  and  succeeds  by  her  beauty  and  blandishments  to  win 
much  wealth  from  the  prince  and  leave  him  impoverished.  With 
graceful  touches  of  wit  and  humour,  delicate  problems  in  the 
doctrine  of  love  are  set  forth;  and  in  spite  of  the  obvious  grossness 
of  its  dangerous  content,  the  work  does  not  lack  elegance  of  treat* 
ment,  while  the  characters,  though  not  wholly  agreeable,  are 
drawn  with  considerable  skill  and  vividness  from  a  direct  obser- 
vation of  certain  social  type,^.  The  pictures  are  doubtless 
heightened,  but  they  are  in  all  essentials  true,  and  do  not  present 
mere  caricatures.  The  chief  interest  of  the  work  lies  in  these 
word-pictures,  and  not  in  the  stories,  which,  though  well  told,  are 
without  distinction,  nor  in  the  subject-matter^  which,  though 
delicately  handled,  is  not  above  reproach. 

Although  the  Kuttanl-mata  displays  a  wide  experience  of 
men  and  things,  it  is  based  undoubtedly  upon  a  close  study 
of  the  art  of  Erotics,  the  Vaisika  Upacara  or  VaisikI  Kala, 
elaborated  by  Vatsyayana  and  Bharata  for  the  benefit  of  the  raan- 
about-town  and  the  courtesan  ;  but,  on  this  ground,  to  reject  it 
lightly  as  mere  pornography  is  to  mistake  the  real  trend  of  the 
lively  little  sketch.  There  is  indeed  a  great  deal  of  frankness, 
and  even  gusto,  in  describing,  in  no  squeamish  language,  the 
art  and  mystery  of  satisfying  the  physical  woman;  and  the 
heroines  of  the  stories  are  made  the  centres  of  coarse  intrigues. 
Modern  taste  would  perhaps  -regard  all  this  as  foul  and  fulsome  ; 
but  there  is  no  proof  of  moral  depravity.  On  the  contrary,  the 
moral  depravity,  perhaps  of  his  own  times  (as  we  learn  from 
Kahlana),  is  openly  and  amusingly  depicted  by  the  author,  not 
with  approval,  but  with  object  of  making  it  look  ludicrous.  As 
in  most  cpmic  writings  in  Sanskrit,  the  erotic  tendency  prevails, 
and  there  is  not  much  direct  satire.  But,  even  if  his 
scope  is  narrow,  Damodaragupta  is  a  real  humourist,  who 
does  not  seek  to  paint  black  as  white  but  leaves  the 
question  of  black  and  white  for  the  most  part  alone.  At  the 


conclusion  of    his   poem,  he   tells  us   that  any  one  who  reads  it 
will  not  fall  victim   to  the   deceit    of    rogues,    panderers,    and 
procuresses ;  but   his    work   is   not  a   mere   guide-book   for  the 
blind,  the  weak  and  the  misguided.     It  is  a  work  of  art  in  which 
there  is   no  didactic  moralising,  but   which   is   characterised   by 
direct    and   animated,    but    not  merciless,    painting  of  droll  life, 
essentially  of  the  higher  grades  of  society.     The   poet   sees    two 
kinds   of   men    in   all    walks   of    life— rogues   and  fools  ;  but  he 
neither    hates   the   one    nor   despises    the  other.     The  result  is 
comedy   rather   than    satire,    not  virtuous  indignation  but  enter- 
taining exposure  of  human  frailty.     Damodaragupta  is    a  perfect 
artist  in  words  and  also  a  poet  ;  and  the  facetious   style,    couched 
in  slow-moving  and  serious  Arya  stanzas,    is   eleganlly    polished, 
yet  simple   and  direct    in   polite    banter   and   power  of  gentle 
ridicule.     There  is  hardly  anywhere  any  roughness  or  bitterness  ; 
and  the  witty,  smooth  and   humorous   treatment  makes  the  work 
unique   in    Sanskrit.     If   the    atmosphere   is   squalid,  it    is  not 
depressing,  but  amusing.     Damodaragupta   is  daring  enough   to 
skate  on   thin  ice,  but  he  has  balance  and  lightness  to  carry   him 
through  ;  and  if  his  onset  is  not  biting,  it  is    not  entirely   tooth- 
less.   That    the   extraordinary    coarseness  of  his    subject    never 
hindered    the    popularity   of   his    work    with   men    of  taste  and 
culture   is   a   tribute  to    its  innate  literary  merit.     But  we  shall 
see   that   later   authors   like   Kseraendrn,  also  a  TCnshmirian,  in 
trying   to    imitate    him    without    his    gifts,     lapsed    into    bald 
realism,  acrid  satire  or  unredeemed  vulgarity.     The  difficult  type 
of  literature,  thus   inaugurated,    had   great   possibilities,  but    it 
never  developed  properly  in  Sanskrit. 




a.     General  Remarks 

The  peculiar  type  of   prose   narrative,    which    the   Sanskrit 
theory  includes  under  the  category  of  Katha  and  Akhyayika,    but 
which,  on  a  broader  interpretation,  has  been  styled  Prose  Romance 
or  Kunstroman,  first  makes  its  appearance,  in  this   period,    in    a 
fully  developed  form  in  the  works  of  Dandin,  Subandhu  and  Bana. 
But  the  origin  of  this  species  of    literature  is  shrouded  in  greater 
obscurity  than  that  of  the  Kav\a  itself,  of  which  it    is   presumed 
to  be  a  sub-division      We  know  at  least  of  A^vaghosa  as  a  prede- 
cessor who  heralded  the  poetic  maturity  of  Kalidasa,   but   of   the 
forerunners  of  Dandin,  Subandhu  and  Bana  we  have   little   infor- 
mation.    The  antiquity  of  this  literature    is   undoubted,    but   no 
previous  works,  which  might  have  explained  the   finished  results 
diversely  attained  by  these  authors,  have  comedown  to   us.     We 
have   seen  that  the  Akhyayika  is  specifically  mentioned  by  Katya- 
yana  in  his  Varttika  ;  and  Patailjali,    commenting  on    it,   gives 
the  names  of  three  Akhyayikas  known  to  him,  namely,  Vasava- 
datta,  Sumanottara  and   Bhaimarathi ;    but    we  know   nothing 
about  the  form  and  content  of  these  early  works.     The  very  title 
of  the   Brhatkatha  and  the   designation   Katha   applied    to  the 
individual  tales  of  the  Pancatantra,  one  of  whose  versions  is  also 
called  Tantrdkhyayika,  indicate   an   early   familiarity    with   the 
words  Katha  and  Akhyayika,  but  the  terms  are  apparently** used 
to  signify  a  tale  in  general,  without  any  specific  technical  conno- 
tation.1   We  know  nothing,  again,  of  the  Carumati  of  Vararuci, 

1  The  Katha  and  the  Skhyayika  are  mentioned  in  Mahabhdrata  ii.  11.  88  (Bomb.  Ed.),  but 
Wiiitermtz  has  shown  (JRAS,  1903,  pp.  571-72)  that  the  stanza  is  interpolated.— The  Sanskrit 
ikhyayika,  as  we  know  it,  has  no  similarity  to  Oldenberg's  hypothetical  Vcdic  XJchyana; 


from  which  a  stanza  is  quoted  in  Bhoja's  &rhgara-'praka6a,  nor  of 
the  tfudraka-katha  (if  it  is  a  Katha)  of  Kalidasa's  predecessor 
Somila  (and  Bamila),  nor  of  the  Tarahgavati  of  Srlpalitta,1  who 
is  mentioned  and  praised  in  Dhanapala's  Tilakamanjarl  and 
Abhinanda's  Rama-carita  as  a  contemporary  of  Hala-Satavahana. 
Bana  himself  alludes  to  the  two  classes  of  prose  composition, 
called  respectively  the  Katha  and  the  Akhyayika,  clearly  intimat- 
ing that  his  Harsa-carita  is  intended  to  be  an  AkhyayikS  and  his 
Kadambari  a  Katha.  He  also  offers  a  tribute  of  praise  to  writers 
of  the  Akhyayika  who  preceded  him,  and  refers,  as  Subandhu 
also  does,2  to  its  division  into  chapters  called  Uccbvasas  and  to 
the  occurrence  of  Vaktra  metres  as  two  of  its  distinguishing 
characteristics.  Bana  even  mentions  Bhattara  Haricandra,  to  us 
only  a  name,  as  the  author  of  a  prose  composition  of  high  merit ; 
to  this  testimony  the  Prakrit  poet  Vakpati,  in  the  9th  centuryA 
subscribes  by  mentioning  Haricandra  along  with  Kalidasa, 
Subandhu  and  Bana. 

It  seems  clear,  therefore,  that  Bana  is  no  innovator,  nor  is 
Haricandra  the  creator  of  the  Prose  Kavya,  which  must  have 
gradually  evolved,  with  the  narrative  material  of  the  folk-tale, 
under  the  obvious  influence  of  the  poetic  Kavya  during  a  con- 
siderable period  of  time.  But  an  effort3  has  been  made  to  prove, 

for  in  the  Akhyayika  the  prose  is  essential  and  the  verse  negligible.  See  Keith  in  JRASt 
1911,  p.  979  for  full  discussion  and  references. 

1  This  is  obviously  the  Dharraa-katha  or  Jaina  religious  story,  called  Tarangavati,  of 
SrI-padalipta  or  Siri-palitta,  who  is  already  mentioned  as  Tarangavatikara  in~tbe  Anuogaddra, 
and  therefore  must  have  flourished  before  the  5th  century  A.  D.  The  scene  of  the  story  is  laid 
at  grftvasti  in  the  time  of  Udayana ;  but  the  work  is  lost.  Its  romantic  love-story,  however, 
is  preserved  in  the  Tarahgalold,  composed  in  Prakrit  verse  in  1643  A.  D.  According  to 
E.  Leumann,  who  has  translated  the  Tarahgahld  (Miinchen  1921),  Sri-padalipta  lived  as  early 
as  the~2nd  or  3rd  century  A.  D.  There  is  a  tradition  that  he  lived  in  the  time  of  Salivabana. 
A  MS  dfcthe  Prakrit  work  is  noticed  in  the  Descriptive  Cat  of  MSS  in  the  Jaina  Bhandar  at 
Pattan  by  L.  B.  Gandhi  (G08,  Baroda  1937),  introd.,  p.  58. 

*    Ed.  F.  Hall,  p.  184. 

3  Weber  in  SB  A  W,  XXXVII,  p.  917  and  Ind.  Stud.,  XVIIT,  p.  456  f ;  Peterson  introd. 
to  Kadambari,  2nd  ed.,  Bombay  1889,  pp.  101-04.  But  Lac6te  ccmea  to  the  opposite  conclusion 
of  the  borrowing  by  the  Greek  romance  from  the  Sanskrit !  See  discussion  of  the  question 
by  L.  H,  Gray,  introd.  to  Vasavadatta  (cited  below),  p.  86  f;  Keith  in  JRAS,  1914,  p.  1108; 
1915,  p.  784  f ,  HSLt  p.  865  f ;  and  Winternitz,  GIL,  III,  p.  371  f . 


%  adducing  parallels  of  incident,  motif  and  literary  device,  that 
the  Sanskrit  romance  was  directly  derived  from  the  Greek.  Even 
admitting  some  of  the  parallels,  the  presumption  is  not  excluded 
that  they  might  have  developed  independently,  while  the  actual 
divergence  between  the  two  types,  in  form  and  spirit,  is  so  great 
as  to  render  any  theory  of  borrowing  no  more  than  a  groundless 
conjecture.  The  Sanskrit  romance,  deriving  its  inspiration 
directly  from  the  Kavya,  to  which  it  is  approximated  both  by 
theory  and  practice,  is  hardly  an  exotic  ;  it  is  differentiated  from 
the  Greek  romance  by  its  comparative  lack  of  interest  in  the 
narrative,  which  is  a  marked  quality  of  the  Greek  romance,  as 
well  as  by  its  ornate  elaboration  of  form  and  expression,1  which 
is  absent  in  the  naivete  and  simplicity  of  the  Greek  stories.  It 
is  true  that  the  fact  of  difference  need  not  exclude  the  possibility 
of  borrowing ;  but,  as  in  the  case  of  the  drama,  no  substantial 
fact  has  yet  been  adduced,  which  would  demonstrate  the  positive 
fact  of  borrowing  by  Sanskrit. 

So  far  as  the  works  of  the  rhetoricians  are  concerned,  the 
earliest  forms  of  the  Katha  and  the  Akhyayika  are  those  noticed 
by  Bbamaba  and  Dandin.2  In  the  Akhyayika,  according  to 
Bhamaha,  the  subject-matter  gives  facts  of  actual  experience,  the 
narrator  being  the  hero  himself ;  the  story  is  told  in  pleasing 
prose,  divided  into  chapters  called  Ucchvasasand  containing  metri- 
cal pieces  in  Vaktra  and  Aparavaktra  metre,  indicative  of  future 
happening  of  incidents  ;  scope  may  be  allowed  to  poetic  inven- 
tion, and  the  theme  may  embrace  subjects  like  the  abduction  of 
a  maiden  (Kanya-harana),  fighting,  separation  and  final  triumph 
of  the  hero ;  and  it  should  be  composed  in  Sanskrit.  In  the 

1  The  Greek  romance  his,  no  doubt,  a  few  specific  instances  of  rhetorical  ornaments, 
such  as  hom&iteleul  a,  parisosis,  alliteration  and  strained  compounds,  but  they  are  not  com- 
parable to  those  in  the  Sanskrit  romance,  which  essentially  depends  on  them.  There  is 
hardly  anything  in  Greek  corresponding  to  the  picaresque  type  of  story  which  we  find  in 

1   *   i  fta,  on  this  question,  8.  K.  De,  The  Akhyayika  and  the  Katha  in  Ol&Mical  Sanskrit  in 
QSOS,  III,  1M5,  p,  60747  ;  also  J,  Nobel,  op.  cit.,  p.  156  f, 


Katha,  on  the  other  hand,  the  subject-matter  is  generally  an 
invented  story,  the  narrator  being  some  one  other  than  the  hero ; 
there  is  no  division  into  Ucchvasas,  no  Vaktra  or  Aparavaktra 
verses ;  and  it  may  be  composed  either  in  Sanskrit  or  in 
Apabhram^a .  It  will  be  seen  at  once  that  the  prototypes  of  this 
analysis  are,  strictly,  not  the  two  prose  narratives  of  Bana,  nor 
those  of  Dandin  and  Subandhu,  but  some  other  works  which  have 
not  come  down  to  us.  It  is  worth  noting,  however,  that  the 
older  and  more  rigid  distinctions,  embodied  by  Bhamaha,  were 
perhaps  being  obliterated  by  the  innovations  of,  bolder  poets  ;  and 
we  find  a  spirit  of  destructive  criticism  in  the  Kavyadar£a  of 
Dandin,  who  considers  these  refinements  not  as  essential,  but  as 
more  or  less  formal  requirements.  Accordingly,  Dandin  does 
not  insist  upon  the  person  of  the  narrator,  nor  the  kind  of  metre, 
nor  the  heading  of  the  chapter,  nor  the  limitations  of  the  linguis- 
tic form  as  fundamental  marks  of  difference.  This  is  apparently 
in  view  of  current  poetical  usage,  in  which  both  the  types  were 
perhaps  converging  under  the  same  class  of  prose  narrative,  with 
only  a  superficial  difference  in  nomenclature.  It  must  have 
been  a  period  of  uncertain  transition,  and  Dandin's  negative 
criticism  (as  also  Vamana's  brushing  aside  of  the  whole 
controversy)  implies  that  no  fixed  rules  had  yet  been  evolved 
to  regulate  the  fluctuating  theory  or  practice  relating  to  them. 

It  is  clear  that  the  uncertain  ideas  of  early  theorists,  as  well 
as  the  extremely  small  number  of  specimens  that  have  survived, 
does  not  give  us  much  guidance  in  definitely  fixing  the  nomen- 
clature and  original  character  of  the  Sanskrit  Prose  Kavya. 
Nevertheless,  the  whole  controversy  shows  that  the  two  kinds  of 
prose  narrative  were  differentiated  at  least  in  one  important 
characteristic.  Apart  from  merely  formal  requirements,  the 
Akhyayika  was  conceived,  more  or  less,  as  a  serious  composition 
dealing  generally  with  facts  of  experience  and  having  an  auto- 
biographical, traditional  or  semi-historical  interest ;  while  the 
Katha  waa essentially  a  fictitious  narrative,  which  may  sometimes 
(as  Dancjin  contends)  be  recounted  in  the  first  person,  but  whose 


chief  interest  resides  in  its  invention.1  These  older  types  appear 
to  have  been  modified  in  course  of  time ;  and  the  modification 
was  chiefly  on  the  lines  of  the  model  popularised  by  Bana  in  his 
two  prose  Kavyas.  Accordingly  we  find  Budrata  doing  nothing 
more  than  generalising  the  chief  features  of  Bana's  works  into 
rules  of  universal  application.  In  the  Akhyayika,  therefore,  Rudrata 
authorises  the  formula  that  the  narrator  need  not  be  the  hero 
himself,  that  the  Ucchvasas  (except  the  first)  should  open  with 
two  stanzas,  preferably  in  the  Arya  metre,  indicating  the  tenor 
of  the  chapter  in  question,  and  that  there  should  be  a  metrical 
introduction  of  a  literary  character.  All  these  injunctions  are  in 
conformity  with  what  we  actually  find  in  Bana's  Harsa-carita. 
The  Katha  was  less  touched  by  change  in  form  and  substance, 
but  the  erotic  character  of  the  story,  consisting  of  the  winning 
of  a  maiden  (Kanya-labha),  and  not  abduction  (Kanya-harana) 
of  the  earlier  theorists,  was  expressly  recognised ;  while, 
in  accordance  with  the  prevalent  model  of  the  Kadambarl,  a 
metrical  introduction,  containing  a  statement  of  the  author's 
family  and  motives  of  authorship,  is  also  required.  This 
practically  stereotypes  the  two  kinds  in  Sanskrit  literature.  It  is 
noteworthy,  however,  that  later  rhetoricians  do  not  expressly 
speak  of  the  essential  distinction  based  upon  tradition  and  fancy, 
although  they  emphasise  the  softer  character  of  the  Katha  by 
insisting  that  its  main  issue  is  Kanya-labha,  which  would  give 
free  scope  to  the  delineation  of  the  erotic  sentiment. 

It  is  obvious  that  the  prescriptions  of  the  theorists  are  in- 
teresting historical  indications  of  later  developments,  but  they  do 
not  throw  much  light  upon  the  origin  and  early  history  of  the 
Sanskrit  Prose  Kavya.  In  the  absence  of  older  material,  the 
problem  is  difficult  and  does  not  admit  of  a  precise  determination. 
There  can  hardly  be  any  affinity  with  the  beast-fable  of  the 
Paftcatantra  type,  which  is  clearly  distinguishable  in  form, 

'  The  old  lexicon  of  Ainara  also  accepts  (i.  6.   5-6)    this  distinction  when  it  says  :  akhya* 
yikopalabdharthd,  and  prabandhakalpand  kath&t 


content  and  spirit ;  but  it  is  perhaps  not  unreasonable  to  assume 
that  there  was  an  early  connexion  with  the  popular  tale  of  heroes 
and  heroines,  including  the  fairy  tale  of  magic  and  marvel.  This 
appears  to  be  indicated  by  the  very  designation  of  the  Brhatkatha 
as  a  Katba  and  the  express  mention  of  this  work  as  a  Katha  by 
Dandin  ;  and  the  indication  is  supported  by  the  suggestion  that  this 
early  collection  was  drawn  upon  by  Dandin,  Subandhu  and Bana. 
If  this  is  granted,  a  distinction  should,  at  the  same  time,  be  made  ; 
for  the  Brhatkatha,  in  conception  and  expression,  was  apparently 
a  composition  of  a  different  type.  The  available  evidence  makes 
it  more  than  probable  that  the  popular  tale  never  attained  any  of 
the  refinement  and  elaboration  which  we  find  in  the  prose 
romance  from  its  beginning, — in  a  less  degree  in  Dandin  and  in 
more  extravagant  manner  in  Subandhu  and  Bana.  From  this 
point  of  view,  the  prose  romance  cannot  be  directly  traced  back 
to  the  popular  tale  represented  by  Gunadhya's  work  ;  its  imme- 
diate ancestor  is  the  ornate  Kavya  itself,  whose  graces  were 
transferred  from  verse  to  prose  for  the  purpose  of  rehandling  and 
elaborating  the  popular  tale.  It  is  not  known  whether  the  new 
form  was  applied  first  to  the  historical  story  and  then  employed 
to  embellish  the  folk-tale,  as  the  basis  of  the  distinction  between 
the  Akhyayika  and  the  Katha  seems  to  imply;  but  it  is  evident 
that  the  prose  romance  was  evolved  out  of  the  artistic  Kavya  and 
influenced  by  it  throughout  its  history.  The  theorists,  unequivo- 
cally and  from  the  beginning,  include  the  prose  romance  in  the 
category  of  the  Kavya  and  regard  it  as  a  kind  of  transformed 
Kavya  in  almost  every  respect,  while  the  popular  tale  and  the 
beast-fable  are  not  even  tardily  recognised  and  given  that  status. 

It  seems  probable,  therefore,  that  the  prose  romance  bad  a 
twofold  origin.  It  draws  freely  upon  the  narrative  material 
of  the  folk-tale,  rehandles  some  of  its  natural  and  super- 
natural incidents  and  motifs,  adopts  its  peculiar  emboxing 
arrangement  of  tales  and  its  contrivance  of  deux  ex  machina, 
and,  in  fact,  utilises  all  that  is  the  common  stock-in-trade 
of  the  Indian  story-teller.  But  its  form  and  method  of 


story-telling  are  different,  and  are  derived  essentially  from  the 
Kavya.  Obviously  written  for  a  cultured  audience,  the 
prose  romance  has  not  only  the  same  elevated  and  heavily  orna- 
mented diction,  but  it  has  also  the  same  enormous  development 
of  the  art  of  description.  In  fact,  the  existing  specimens  com- 
bine a  legendary  content  with  the  form  and  spirit  of  a  literary 
tour  de  force.  The  use  of  unwieldy  compounds,  incessant  and 
elaborate  puns,  alliterations  and  assonances,  recondite  allusions 
and  other  literary  devices,  favourite  to  the  Kavya,  receive  greater 
freedom  in  prose;  but  stress  is  also  laid  on  a  minute  description 
of  nature  and  on  an  appreciation  of  mental,  moral  and  physical 
qualities  of  men  and  women.  From  the  Kavya  also  comes  its 
love-motif,  as  well  as  its  inclination  towards  erotic  digressions. 
Not  only  is  the  swift  and  simple  narrative  of  the  tale  clothed 
lavishly  with  all  the  resources  of  learning  and  fancy,  but  we  find 
(except  in  Dandin's  Dasakumara-carita)  that  the  least  part  of  the 
romance  is  the  narrative,  and  nothing  is  treated  as  really  important 
but  the  description  and  embellishment.  From  this  point  of  view, 
it  would  be  better  to  call  these  works  Prose  Kavyas  or  poetical 
compositions  in  prose,  than  use  the  alien  nomenclature  Prose 
Eomances,  which  has  a  connotation  not  wholly  applicable. 

The  evolution  of  the  peculiar  type  of  the  Prose  Kavya  from 
the  Metrical  Kavya,  with  the  intermediary  of  the  folk-tale,  need 
not  have  been  a  difficult  process  in  view  of  the  fact  that  the 
term  Kavya  includes  any  imaginative  work  of  a  literary  character 
and  refuses  to  make  verse  an  essential.  The  medium  is  im- 
material ;  the  poetical  manner  of  expression  becomes  important 
both  in  prose  and  verse.  If  this  is  a  far-off  anticipation  of 
Wordsworth's  famous  dictum  that  there  is  no  essential  distinction 
between  verse  and  prose,  the  direction  is  not  towards  simplicity 
but  towards  elaborateness.  In  the  absence  of  early  specimens 
of  imaginative  Sanskrit  prose,  it  is  not  possible  to  decide  whether 
the  very  example  of  the  Prose  Kavya  is  responsible  for  this 
attitude,  or  is  itself  the  result  of  the  attitude  ;  but  the  approxi- 
mation of  the  Prose  Kavya  to  the  Metrical  Kavya  appears  to  have 

DANDTN  207 

been  facilitated  by  the  obliteration  of  any  vital  distinction  between 
literary  compositions  in  verse  and  in  prose.  But  for  the 
peculiar  type  of  expository  or  argumentative  prose  found  in  tech- 
nical works  and  commentaries,  verse  remains  throughout  the 
history  of  Sanskrit  literature  the  normal  medium  of  expression, 
while  prose  retains  its  conscious  character  as  something  which 
has  to  compete  with  verse  and  share  its  rhythm  and  refinement. 
At  no  period  prose  takes  a  prominence  and  claims  a  larger  place  ; 
it  is  entirely  subordinated  to  poetry  and  its  art.  The  simple, 
clear  and  yet  elegant  prose  of  the  Paiicatanlra  is  considered  too 
jejune,  and  never  receives  its  proper  development  ;  for  poetry 
appears  to  have  invaded  very  early,  as  the  inscriptional  records 
show,  the  domain  of  descriptive,  romantic  and  narrative  prose. 
An  average  prose-of-all-work  never  emerges,  and  even  in  tech- 
nical treatises  pedestrian  verse  takes  the  place  of  prose. 

b.     Dandin 

The  Da£akumara-carita  l  of  Dandin  illustrates  some  of  the 
peculiarities  of  the  Sanskrit  Prose  Kavya^ mentioned  above,  but  it 
does  not  conform  strictly  to  all  the  requirements  of  the  theorists. 
This  disregard  of  convention  in  practice  may,  with  plausibility, 
be  urged  as  an  argument  in  support  of  the  identity  of  our  Dandin 
with  Dandin,  author  of  the  Kavyadar6a,  who,  as  we  have  seen 
above,  also  advocates  in  theory  a  levelling  of  distinctions.  But 
from  the  rhetorician's  negative  account  no  conclusive  inference 

1  Ed.  H.H.  Wilson,  London  1846  ;ed.  G.  Bdhler  and  P.  Peterson,  in  two  pts.,  Bon, bay 
1887,  1801,  revised  in  one  vol.  by  G.  J.  Agasbe,  Bombay  1919;  witb  four  comms. 
(Padacandrika,  Padadfpika,  Bhusana  and  LaghudTpika),  ed.  N.  B.  Oodabole  and  Vasudeva 
L.  Pansikar,  NSP,  lOtb  ed.,  Bombay  1925.  (1st  ed.  with  two  comm.,  1888;  2nd  ed. 
witb  tbree  comm.,  1889V  Trs.  into  English  (freely)  by  P.  W.  Jacob  (Hindu  Tales), 
London  1873,  revised  by  C.  A.  Rylands,  London  1928 ;  by  A.  W.  Ryder,  Chicago  1927. 
Trs.  into  German  by  J.  J.  Meyer,  Leipzig  1902,  and  by  J.  Hertel,  in  Ind.  Erz&Mer  1-3, 
Leipzig  1902;  trs.  into  French  by  H.  Fauche  in  Une  Tirade,  ou  drame,  hymne,  roman  et 
poeme,  ii,  Paris  1862.  Editions  with  Engl.  trs.  also  published  in  India  by  M.  R.  Kale, 
Bombnv  1926,  apd  by  C.  Sankararama  Sastri,  Madras  1931t 


is  possible,  and  the  romancer  may  be  creating  a  new  genre 
without  consciously  concerning  himself  with  the  views  of  the 
theorists.)  The  problem  of  identity  cannot  be  solved  on  this 
slender  basis  alone ;  and  there  is,  so  far,  no  unanimity  nor  im- 
pregnable evidence  on  the  question.  Some  critics  are  satisfied 
with  the  traditional  ascription  of  both  the  works  to  one  Damjin,1 
and  industriously  search  for  points  to  support  it.  However  good 
the  position  is,  errors  in  traditional  ascription  are  not  rare  and 
need  not  be  final.  On  the  other  hand,  the  name  Dandin  itself, 
employed  to  designate  a  religious  mendicant  of  a  certain  order, 
may  be  taken  as  a  title  capable  of  being  applied  to  more  than  one 
person,  and  therefore  does  not  exclude  the  possibility  of  more 
than  one  Dandin.  A  very  strong  ground  for  denying  identity  of 
authorship  is  also  made  out 2  by  not  a  negligible  amount  of 
instances  in  which  Dandin  the  prose-poet  offends  against  the 
prescriptions  of  Dandin  the  rhetorician.  It  is  a  poor  defence 
to  say  that  a  man  need  not  practise  what  he  teaches;  for  the 
question  is  more  vital  than  mere  mechanical  adherence  to  rules, 
but  touches  upon  niceties  of  diction  and  taste  and  general  outlook. 
\The  presumption  that  the  DaSakumara  belongs  to  the  juvenilia  of 
Darujin  and  the  Kavyadar£a  is  the  product  of  more  mature 
judgment  is  ingenious,  but  there  is  nothing  immature 
in  either  work.j  The  general  exaltation  of  the  Vaidarbba 
Marga  in  the  Kavyadartia  and  its  supposed  illustration  in  the 
DaSakumara  supply  at  best  a  vague  argument,  which 
need  not  be  considered  seriously.  That  both  the  authors  were 
Southerners  is  suggested,  but  not  proved ;  for  while  the  indica- 
tions in  the  Kavyadar$a  are  inconclusive,  there  is  nothing  to 
show  that,  apart  from  conventional  geography,8  the  author  of 
the  romance  knows  familiarly  the  eighteen  different  countries 

1  The  attribution  of  three  works  to  Dandin  by  Bajafokhara  and  the  needless  conjee- 
tares  about  them  are  no  longer  of  much  value;  see  3.  E.  De,  Sanskrit  Poetics,  I,  p.  62  note 
andp  72. 

*    Agaahe,  op.  ctf.,  pp.  xxv-xxxv. 

3  Bee  Mark  Collins,  The  Geographical  Data  of  the  Rayhuvamta  and  the  Da^akumdra- 
carita  (Diss.),  Leipzig  1907 f  p.  46. 

DAN  DIN  209 

mentioned  in  the  course  of  the  narrative.  The  geographical  items 
of  the  Datakumara  only  reveal  a  state  of  things  which  existed 
probably  in  a  period  anterior  to  the  date  of  Halrsavardhana's 
empire,1  and  suggest  for  the  work  a  date  much  earlier  than  what 
is  possible  to  assign  to  the  KavyadarSa.  It  is  true  that  the  time 
of  both  the  works  is  unknown  ;  but  while  the  date  of  the 
Kavyadar£a  is  approximated  to  the  beginning  of  the 
8th  century,2  there  is  nothing  to  show  that  the  DaSakumara  cannot 
be  placed  much  earlier.8  The  use  of  rare  words,  grammatical 
solecisms  and  stylistic  peculiarities  of  .the  Da£akumara  again, 
on  which  stress  is  sometimes  laid  for  a  comparatively  late  date, 
admit  of  an  entirely  opposite,  but  more  reasonable,  explanation 
of  an  early  date,  which  is  also  suggested  by  the  fact  that  the 
romance  has  certainly  none  of  the  affected  prose  and  developed 
form  of  those  of  Subandhu  and  Bana.  (The  picture  of  the 
so-called  degenerate  society  painted  by  Dandin  is  also  no  argument 
for  a  late  date;  for  it  would  apply  equally  well  to  the  Mrcchakatika 
and  the  Gaturbhan'i,  the  earlmess  of  which  cannot  be 
daubted  and  to  which  the  Da$akumara  bears  a  more  than 
superficial  resemblance  in  spirit,  style  and  diction.4 

1  Maik  Collins,   op.  fit.,  p.  9  f. 

2  S   K    De,    Sanskrit  Poeticat1t  p   58  f,  in  spita    of  Keith'd  advocacy    (Indian    Studies 
in  honour  of    Lanman,  Cambridge  Mas*.,  19*29,  p.  167  f)  of  an  earlier  date  for  the  Kavyad'irta 
on   the   ground   of  Dandin's  priority    to  Bhamahi.     This  is    not  the  place  to  enter  into    the 
reopened   question,  but   there    is  still  reason  to  believe  that  the  presumption  of  Bhamaha's 
priority  will  survive  Keith's  strenuous   onslaught. 

3  The  alleged   relation  of   Bharavi  to  Dandin   of  the    Datakumti ra°    (see  S.  K  De    in 
IHQ  I,  p.  31  f;  III,  p.   395-96) ;  G.  Harihara   Saatri  in  ibid,  III,  pp.  169-171),  would  place 
him  towards  the  close  of  the  7th    and    beginning  of  the  8th  century  A.  D.,~  a   date  which  is 
near  enough  to  that  of   Dandin  of   the   Kavyftdarta  ;  but  the  reliability  of  the  account  is  not 
beyond  question  (see  Keith,  HSL,  preface,  p.  xvi). 

4  Weber  (Indische   Streifen,  Berlin    1868,  pp.    311-15,  353),  Meyer  (op.  cit..  pp.  120*27} 
and    Collins  (op.  eifc.,   p.  48)    would   place.  Da/a7rwmfira°    some  time  before     585    A.D.    In 
discussing  the  question,  however,  it  is  better  not  to  confuse  the  issue  by  presuming  beforehand 
the  identity    of  the    romancer    and  the    rhetorician.    Agashe's    impossible    dating  at   the 
llth  or  12th  century  ia  based  on  deductions  from  very  slender  and   uncertain   data.     The  fact 
that  the  DaSakumfaa  in  not  quoted   in  the  analogical  literature  before  the  llth  century  or 
that  adaptations  in  the  vernacular  were  not  produced   before  the  13th,  are  arguments  from 
silence  which  do  not  prove  much.     Agaahe,  however,  does  not  rightly  accept  the  worthies* 



Dafakumara-carita,  in  its  present  form,  shows,  with 
Bana's  two  romances,  the  peculiarity  of  having  been  left 
unfinished,  biit  it  also  lacks  an  authentic  beginning.  )  The  end  is 
usually  supplied  by  a  Supplement  in  four  Ucchvasas,  called 
Uttara-pithika  or  Sesa,  which  is  now  known  to  be  the  work  of 
a  comparatively  modern  Deccan  writer  named  Cakrapani 
Diksita,1  son  of  Candramauli  Diksita;  but  a  ninth  or  concluding 
Ucchvasa  by  Padmanabha  2  and  a  continuation  by  Maharaja- 
dhiraja  Goplnatha3  are  also  known  to  exist.  (The  beginning  is 
found  similarly  in  a  Prelude,  called  Purva-pithika,4  in  five 
Ucchvasas,  which  is  believed  on  good  grounds  to  be  the  work  of 
some  other  hand  than  that  of  Dandin.  )  The  title  Dafakumara- 
carita  suggests  that  we  are  to  expect  accounts  of  the  adventures 
of  ten  princes,  but  the  present  extent  of  Dandin's  work  proper 
contains,  with  an  abrupt  commencement,  eight  of  these  in  eight 
Ucchvasas.  The  Purva-pithika  was,  therefore,  obviously  intended 
to  supply  not  only  the  framework  of  the  stories  but  also  the 
missing  stories  of  two  more  princes  ;  while  the  Uttara-pithika 
undertakes  to  conclude  the  story  of  Visruta  left  incomplete  in  the 
last  chapter  of  Dandin's  work.  Like  the  Uttara-pithika,  the 
Purva-pithika,  which  was  apparently  not  accorded  general 
acceptance,  exists  in  various  forms,6  and  the  details  of  the  tales 

legend,  relied  upon   by  Wilson,    which  makes  Dandin  an  ornament  of   the   court  of  Bhoja 
The  reference  to  Bhoja-vaqiB**  in  Ullasa  viii   (ed.    Agashe,    p.  129)  does    not  support  this 
hypothesis,    for    Kalidasa   also  uses  the  name  Bhojax,    referring   probably  to  the   rulers  of 

1  Eggeling,  Ind.   Office  Cat.,  vii,  no.  4069/2934,  p.  1553. 

2  Agashe,  op.  cit.t  p.  xxiv. 

3  Wilson,  introd.,  p.  80;  Eggeling,  op.  cit.t  vii,  no.  4070/1850,  p\  1554. 

4  Some  MSS   (e.g.  India  Office  MS.  no.  4059/2694;  Rggeliug,  op.  cit.,  vii,  p  1561)  and 
some  early  editions  (e.g.,  the  Calcutta  ed.  of  Madan  Mohan  Tarkalamkar,  1849)  do  not  contain 
the  Purva-pithika.    The  ed.  of  Wilson  and  others  include  it.  Wilson  ventured  the  conjecture 
that  the  Prelude  is  the  work  of  one  of  Dandia's  disciples;  but  iu   view  of  the  various    forms 
in  which  it  if  now  known  to  exist  and    also  because    it   is    missing    in  some   MSS,   this 
conjecture  must  be  discarded.    Some  of  the  versions  are  also  obviously  late  productions. 

*  The  version,  which  begins  with  the  solitary  benedictory  stanza  brahmanda-cchatra. 
dofitfa*  and  narrates,  in  five  Ucchvisas.the  missing  stories  of  the  two  princes  Puspodbbava  and 
8o«n*dstta,  along  with  that  of  the  missing  part  of  the  story  of  Bfriavahana  and  his  lady-toy* 


do  not  agree  in  all  versions  nor  with  the  body  of  Dandin's 
genuine  text. 

(So  far  as  Dandin's  own  narrative  goes,  each  of  the  seven 
princes,  who  are  the  friends  and  associates  of  the  chief  hero, 
Eajavahana,  recounts  his  adventure,  in  the  course  of  which  each 
carves  out  his  own  career  and  secures  a  princely  spouse.  But 
the  work  opens  abruptly  with  an  account  of  Rajavahana,  made 
captive  and  led  in  an  expedition  against  Cainpa,  where  in  the 
course  of  a  turmoil  he  finds  all  the  rest  of  his  companions.  By 
his  desire  they  severally  .relate  their  adventures,  which  are 
comprised  in  each  of  the  remaining  seven  chapters.  The 
rather  complex  story  of  Apaharavnrnmn,  which  comes 
in  the  second  Ucehvasa,  is  one  of  the  longest  and  best  in 
the  collection,  being  rich  in  varied  incidents  and  interesting 
chiracters.  The  seduction  practised  on  the  ascetic  Marici  by 
the  accomplished  courtesan,  Kamamanjari,  who  also  deceives  the 
merchant  'Vastupala,  strips  him  to  the  loin-cloth  and  turns  him 
into  a  Jaina  monk  ;  the  adventure  in  the  gambling  house;  the 
ancient  art  of  thieving1  in  which  the  hero  is  proficient ;  the 
punishing  of  the  old  misers  of  Cainpa  who  are  taught  that  the 
goods  of  the  world  are  perishable  ;  the  motif  of  the  inexhaustible 
purse  ;  all  these,  described  with  considerable  humour  and  vivid- 
ness, are  woven  cleverly  into  this  tale  of  the  Indian  Kobin  Hood, 

Avantiaundari  is  the  usually  accepted  Prelude,  found  in  moat  MSS.  and  printed  editions.  Its 
spurious  character  has  been  shown  by  Agaghe.  It  is  remarkable  that  the  usual  metrical 
beginning  required  by  theory  at  the  outset  of  a  Katba  or  Akhyayika  is  missing  here.  The 
benedictory  stanza  however,  is  quoted  anonymously  in  Bhoja's  Sarasvatl-kan^Jidbharana 
(ed.  Borooah,  1884,  p.  114) ;  the  fact  would  indicate  that  this  Prelude  must  have  been  pce6xed 
at  least  before  llth  century.  Another  Prelude  by  Bhatfca  Narayana  is  given  in  App.  to 
Agashe's  ed.,  while  still  another  in  verse  by  Vinayaka  in  three  chapters  is  noticed  by 
Eggeling,  op.  cit.t  vii,  no.  40871/686a,  p.  1553.  M.  ft  Kavi  published  (Madras  1924)  a 
fragmentary  Avantisundarl-kathd  in  prose  (with  a  metrical  sumrmry  called  *Katha-$ara), 
which  is  ascribed  to  Dandin  as  the  lost  Purva-plthika  of  his  romance,  but  this  19  quite 
implausible;  see  8.  K.  De  in  IHQ  I,  p.  31  f  and  III,  p.  394  f. 

1  On  the  art  of  thieving,,  sec  Bloomfield  in  Amer.  Journ.  of  Philology,  XLIV,  1923, 
pp.  97-193, 193-229  and  Proc.  of  the  Amer.  Philosophical  Soc.,  LIT,  pp  61G-650  On  burglnry 
as  a  literary  theme,  see  L.  H.  Gray  in  WZKM,  XVIII,  1904,  pp  50-51.  Sarvilaka  in  tfce 
is  also  a  scientific  thief,  with  hi*  paraphernalia,  like  Apaharavarman. 


who  plunders  the  rich  to  pay  the  poor,  unites  lovers  and  reinstates 
unfortunate    victims    of   meanness    and    treachery.     The    next 
tale  of  Upaharavarman  is  not  equally  interesting,  but   it   is  not 
devoid  of  incident  and  character ;  it  is  the  story  of  the  recovery  of 
the  lost  kingdom  of  the  hero's  father  by  means  of  a  trick,  includ- 
ing the  winning   of   the    queen's    favour,    murder  and  pretended 
transformation1  by  power  of  magic  into  the  dissolute  king  who  bad 
usurped.     The  succeeding  story  of  Arthapala   is   very   similar  in 
its  theme  of  resuscitation  of  his  father's  lost  rank  as  the  disgraced 
minister  of  the  king  of  Kasi,  and  incidental  winning  of  Princess 
Manikarnika,  but  it  has  nothing  very  striking  except  the  pretend- 
ed use  of  the^device  of  snake-charm.     The  fifth  story  of  Pramati 
introduces  the  common  motif  of  a  dream-vision   of  the   Princess 
Navamalika  of  Sravasti,  and  describes  how  the  hero,  in  the  dress 
of  a  woman,  contrives  (by  the  trick  of  being  left  as   a  deposit)  to 
enter  the  royal  apartments  and  have  access  to  the  princess  ;   but 
it  also  gives  an  incidental  account   of   the   somewhat   unconven- 
tional watching  of  a  cock-fight  by  a  Brahman  !     The   sixth  story 
of  Mitragupta,  who  wins  Princess  KandukavatI  of  Damalipta   in 
the  Suhma  country,  is  varied  by  introducing   adventures   on   the 
high  seas  and  on  a  distant  island,   and   by  enclosing,   after   the 
manner     of     the    Vetala-pancavim£ati,    four    ingenious    tales, 
recounted  in  reply  to  the  question  of  a  demon,  namely,    those   of 
Bhumini,  Gomini,  Nimbavati  and  Nitambavati,  all  of  which  illus- 
trate the  maxim  that  cunning  alone  is  the  way  to  success.     The 
seventh  tale  of  Mantragupta  is  a  literary  tour  de  force,  in  which 
no  labial  letters  are  used  by  the  narrator,  because   his   lips   have 
been  made  sore  by  the  passionate  kisses  of  his  beloved.     It  begins 
with  the  episode  of  a   weird   ascetic   and    his    two    ministering 
goblins,  repeats  the  device  of   pretended  transformation   through 
magic  into  a  murdered  man,  and  places  the  incidents  on   the  sea- 
coast  of  Kalinga  and  Andhra,    The  last  incomplete  narrative  of 

1  On  the  art  of  entering  another's   body  as  a   fiction- motif,  see   M.   Blootofield  in  Proc, 
American  Philosophical  Soe.t  LVI,  1917,  pp.  1-48. 

Vi^ruta  relates  the  restoration  of  the  hero's  proteg6,  a  young 
prince  of  Vidarbha,  to  power  by  a  similar  clever,  but  not  over- 
scrupulous, contrivance,  including  the  ingenious  spreading  of  a 
false  rumour,  the  use  of  a  poisoned  chaplet  and  the  employment 
of  a  successful  fraud  in  the  name  and  presence  of  the  image  of 
Durga  ;  but  the  arguments  defending  idle  pleasures,  which  speak 
the  language  of  the  profligate  of  all  ages,  as  well  as  the  introduc- 
tion of  dancers  and  jugglers  and  their  amusing  sleight  of  hand, 
are  interesting  touches. 

It  will  be  seen  at  once  that  Dandin 's  work  differs  remark- 
ably from  such  normal  specimens  of  the  Prose  Kavya  as  those 
of  Subandhu  and  Bana  ;  and  it  is  no  wonder  that  its  unconven- 
tionality  is  not  favoured  by  theorists,  in  whose  rhetorical  treatises 
Dandin  is  not  cited  till  the  llth  century  A.D.CjThe  DaSakumara- 
carita  is  rightly  described  as  a  romance  of  roguery.  In  this 
respect,  it  is  comparable,  to  a  certain  extent,  to  the  Mrcchakutika, 
which  is  also  a  drama  full  of  rascals,)  and  to  the  four  old  Blianas, 
ascribed  to  Syamilaka,  Isvaradatla  and  others;  but  rascality  is 
not  the  main  topic  of  interest  in  Sudraka's  drama,  nor  is  the 
Bhana,  as  a  class  of  composition,  debarred  by  theory  from  dealing 
with  low  characters  and  themes  of  love,  revelry  and  gambling. 
.Dandin's  work,  on  the  other  hand,  derives  its  supreme  flavour 
from  the  vivid  and  picturesque  exposition  of  such  characters  and 
themes.)  Although  the  romantic  interest  is  not  altogether  want- 
ing, and  marvel  and  magic  and  winning  of  maidens  find  a  place, 
it  is  concerned  primarily  with  the  adventures  of  clever  tricksters. 
(Dandin  deliberately  violates  the  prescription  that  the  Prose 
Kavya,  being  a  sub-division  of  the  Kavya  in  general,  should  have 
a  good  subject  (Sada^raya)  and  that  the  hero  should  be  noble  and 
high-souled.  Gambling,  burglary,  cunning,  fraud,  violence, 
murder,  impersonation,  abduction  and  illicit  love  form,  jointly 
and  severally,  the  predominating  incidents  in  every  story;)  and 
Mantragupta's  definition  of  love  as  the  determination  to  Assess 
— de  I'audace  in  Danton's  famous  phrase — is  indeed  typical 
of  its  erotic  situations.  Wilson,  with  his  mid-Victorian 


sense  of  propriety,  speaks  of  the  loose  principles  and  lax 
morals  of  the  work,  and  the  opinion  has  been  repeated  in  a 
modified  form  by  some  modern  critics ;  but  the  point  is  over- 
looked that  immorality,  rather  than  morality,  is  its  deliberate 
theme.  £jhe  Dasakumara  is  imaginative  fiction,  but  it  approaches 
in  spirit  to  the  picaresque  romance  of  modern  Europe,  which 
gives  a  lively  picture  of  rakes  and  ruffians  of  great  cities.)  (It  is 
not  an  open  satire,  but  the  whole  trend  is  remarkably  satirical  in 
utilising,  with  no  small  power  of  observation  and  caricature,  the 
amusing  possibilities  of  incorrigible  rakes,  unscrupulous  rogues, 
hypocritical  ascetics,  fraudulent  priests,  light-hearted  idlers,  fervent 
lovers,  cunning  bawds,  unfaithful  wives  and  heartless  courtesans, 
who  jostle  with  each  other  within  the  small  compass  of  the  swift  and 
racy  narratives./  The  scenes  are  accordingly  laid  in  cosmopolitan 
cities  where  the  scum  and  refuse  of  all  countries  and  societies 
meet.  Even  the  higher  world  of  gocls,  princes  and  Bralunans 
is  regarded  with  little  respect.  The  gods  are  brought  in  to 
justify  disgraceful  deeds  in  which  the  princes  engage  themselves  ; 
the  Buddhist  nuns  act  as  procuresses  ;  the  teaching  of  the  Jina 
is  declared  by  a  Jaina  monk  to  be  nothing  but  a  swindle  ;  and 
the  Brahman's  greed  of  gold  and  love  of  cock-fights  are  held  up 
to  ridicule.  Two  chief  motives  which  actuate  the  princes  of  wild 
deeds  are  the  desire  for  delights  of  love  and  for  the  possession  of 
a  realm,  but  they  are  not  at  all  fastidious  about  the  means  they 
employ  to  gain  their  ends.  Their  frankness  often  borders  on 
cynicism  and,  if  not  on  a  lack  of  morality,  on  fundamental  non- 

lit  is  a  strange  world  in  which  we  move,  life-like,  no  doubt, 
in  its  skilful  portraiture,  but  in  a  sense, unreal,  being  sublimated 
with  marvel  and  magic,  which  are  seldom  dissociated  from  folk- 
tale.1) We  hear  of  a  collyrium  which  produces  invisibility,  of  a 
captive's  chains  transformed  deliciously  into  a  beautiful  nymph, 
of  burglar's  art  which  turns  beggars  into  millionaires,  and  of 
magician's  charms  which  spirit  away  maidens.  JThis  trait  appears 
to  have  been  inherited  from  the  popular  tale,  and  Darwjin's 

DANDIN  215 

indebtedness  to  the  Brhatkatha  has. been  industriously  traced.  1 
But  the  treatment  undoubtedly  is  Dandin's  own.  )  He  is  success- 
ful in  further  developing  the  lively  elements  of  the  popular  tale, 
to  which  he  judiciously  applies  the  literary  polish  and  sensibility 
of  the  Kavya ;  but  the  one  is  never  allowed  to  overpower  the 
other.  The  brier  of  realism  and  the  rose  of  romance  are  cleverly 
combined  in  a  unique  literary  form.  In  the  laboured  composi- 
tions of  Subandhu  and  Bana  the  exclusive  tendency  towards  the 
sentimental  and  the  erotic  leads  to  a  diminishing  of  interest  in  the 
narrative  or  in  its  comic  possibilities.  JThe  impression^ that  one 
receives  from  Dandin's  work,  on  the  other  hand,  is  that  it  delights 
to  caricature  and  satirise  certain  aspects  of  contemporary  society 
in  an  interesting  period.  Its  power  of  vivid  characterisation 
realises  this  object  by  presenting,  not  a  limited  number  of  types, 
but  a  large  variety  of  individuals,  including  minor  characters  not 
altogether  devoid  of  reality  and  interest.)  There  can  be  little 
doubt  that  most  of  these  are  studies  from  life,  heightened  indeed, 
but  faithful  ;  not  wholly  agreeable,  but  free  from  the  touch  alike 
of  mawkishness  and  affectation,  fit  is  remarkable  that  in  these 
pictures  the  realistic  does  not  quench  the  artistic,  but  the  merely 
finical  gives  way  to  the  vividly  authentic. IF  ^We  pass)  from 
pageantry  to  conduct,  from  convention  to  impression,  from  abs- 
traction to  fact.)  There  are  abundant  instances  of  tie  author's 
sense  of  humour,  his  wit  and  polite  banter,  his  power  of  gentle 
satire  and  caricature,  which  effectively  contribute  to  the  realism 
of  his  outlook. )  For  the  first  time,  these  qualities,  rare  enough 
in  the  normal  Sanskrit  writing,  reveal  themselves  in  a  literary 
form,  and  make  Dandin's  delightfully)  unethical/) romancero 
picaresco,(not  a  conventional  Prose  Kavya,  but  a  distinct  literary 
creation  of  a  new  type  in  Sanskrits 

There  is  more  matter,  but  the  manner  has  no  difficulty  in 
joining  hands  with  it.  Dandin's  work  avoids  the  extended'scale 
and  leisurely  manner  of  proceeding,  the  elaborate  descriptive  and 

1    Agaabe,  op.  n't.,  p.  xh  f, 


sentimental  divagations,  tfce  eccentricities  of  taste  and  extrava- 
gance of  diction,  which  are  derived  from  the  tradition  of  the 
regular  Kavya  and  developed  to  its  utmost  possibilities  or  im- 
possibilities in  the  imaginative  romances  of  Subandhu  and  Bana. 
The  arrangement  of  the  tales  is  judicious,  and  the  comparatively 
swift  and  easy  narrative  is  never  overloaded  by  constant  and 
enormous  digressions.  The  episodic  method  is  old  and  forms 
a  striking  feature  of  Indian  story-telling,  but  in  the  Da&akumara 
the  subsidiary  stories  never  beat  out,  hamper  nor  hold  up  the 
course  oi  the  main  narrative.  Even  the  four  clever  stories  in 
the  sixth  Ucchvasa  are  properly  emboxed,  and  we  are  spared  the 
endless  confusion  of  curses  and  changing  personalities  and  stories 
within  stories.  , 

Not  only  Dandin's  treatment,  but  also  (his  style  and  diction 
are  saved  from  the  fatal  fault  of  over-elaboration  by  his  sense  of 
proportion  and  restraint.  He  is  by  no  means  an  easy  writer, 
but  there  are  no  fatiguing  complexities  in  his  diction ;  it  is 
energetic  and  yet  elegantly  articulated/  It  is  not  marked  by  any 
inordinate  love  for  disproportionate  compounds  and  sesquipedalian 
sentences,  nor  by  a  weakness  for  far-fetched  allusions,  complex 
puns  and  jingling  of  meaningless  sounds.  The  advantage  of  such 
a  style,  free  from  ponderous  construction  and  wearisome  em- 
bellishment, is  obvious  for  the  graphic  dressing  up  of  its  un- 
conventional subjects  of  a  cheat,  a  hypocrite,  an  amorist  or  a 
braggadacio  ;  and  the  Kavya- refinements  would  have  been  wholly 
out  of  place.  Occasionally  indeed  Dandin  indulges  in  florid 
descriptions,  such  as  we  find  in  the  pictures  of  the  sleeping 
Ambalika  or  the  dancing  Kandukavati,  but  even  in  these  cases  he 
keeps  within  the  limits  of  a  few  long  sentences  or  only  one  printed 
page.  There  is  an  attempt  at  a  literary  feat  in  the  avoidance  of 
labial  sounds  in  the  seventh  Ucchvasa,  but  it  is  adequately 
motived  ;  and  Dandin  wisely  confines  himself  to  a  sparing  use  of 
such  verbal  ingenuity.  It  is  not  suggested  that  Dandin  makes  no 
pretension  to  ornament,  but,  in  the  main,  his  use  of  it  is  effective, 
limited  and  pretty,  and  not  recondite,  incessant  arid  tiresome, 

8UBANDHU  217 

highest  praise  goes  to  Dandin  as  the  master  of  vigorous  and 
elegant  Sanskrit  prose  ;  and  his  work,  in  its  artistic  and  social 
challenges,  is  undoubtedly  a  unique  masterpiece,  the  merits  of 
which  need  not  be  reluctantly  recognised  by  modern  taste  for 
not  conforming  to  the  normal  model. I 

c.     SUBANDHU 

In  theory  and  accepted  practice,  the  normal  type  o{  the 
Prose  KSvya  is  illustrated,  not  by  the  work  of  Dandin,  but  by 
those  of  Subandhu  and  Bana.  In  these  typical  Prose  Kavyas, 
however,  there  is  less  exuberance  of  life,  the  descriptions  are 
more  abundant  and  elaborate,  the  narrative  is  reduced  to  a 
mere  skeleton,  learning  loads  the  wings  of  fancy,  and  the  style 
and  treatment  lack  ease  and  naturalness.  They  have  no  ruffian 
heroes,  nor  dubious  adventures,  but  deal  with  chaste  and  noble, 
if  somewhat  sentimental  and  bookish,  characters.  They  employ 
all  the  romantic  devices,  derived  from  folk-tale,  of  reborn  heroes 
and  transformed  personages  in  a  dreamland  of  marvellous  but 
softer  adventure,  and  present  them  in  a  gorgeous  vehicle  of 
elaborately  poetical,  but  artificial,  style. 

The  date  of  Subandhu,  author  of  the  Vasavadatta,1  is  not 
exactly  known.  Attempts  have  been  made  to  establish  its  upper 
and  the  lower  terminus,  respectively,  by  Subandhu's  punning 
allusion,  on  the  one  hand,  to  the  Uddyotakara  2  and  a  supposed 
work  of  Dlmrmakirti,"  belonging  at  least  to  the  middle  of  the 

1  Ed.  P.  Hall,  Bibl.  InJ.,  with  comm.  of  Siv<mlina  Tripatbin,  Calcutta  1859,  reprinted 
ilmoat  verbatim  by  J.  Vidyasagar,  Calcutta  1S74,  3rd  ed.  1907 ;  ed.  R.  V.  Krishnama- 
ihariar  with  his  own  comm.,  Sri  Yani-vilasa  Press,  Srirangatn  1906;  ed.  Louis 
3.  Gray,  in  roman  characters,  Columbia  University  Press,  New  York  1913.  Sivarama 
>elon*s  to  the  18rti  century  ;  see  S  K.  De,  Sanskrit  Poetics,  I,  p.  318.  There  is  also  an  earlier 
somm.  of  Jagaddhara  which  deserves  publication. 

2  nyaya-sthitim  (v.  1.  -vidy&m)  ivoddyotakara-svarupam  (ed.  Hall,  p.  235;  ed. 
Srirangam,  p,  803;  ed.  Gray,  p.  180). 

8  bauddha-sawgatim  (v.  1.  sat-kavi-kavya-racanam)  ivalatiikara-bhujitam,  he.  cit. 
!t  is  remarkable  that  the  reading  is  not  found  in  all  Mss  (Hall,  p.  236),  and  no  work  of 
^barmaklrti's  called  BauddhasarpgatyalaipkSra  has  yet  been  found.  L*vi  (Bulletin  de 
'E'cole  Francis  d'Extrime-Orient,  1903,  p.  18)  denies  that  Subandhu  alludes  to  Dharmaklrti's 
iterary  activity. 

28— 1343B 


sixth  century  A.D.,  and,  on  the  Bother,  by  Bana's  allusion  to  a 
Vasavadatta,  which  is  supposed  to  be  the  same  as  Subandhu's 
work  of  that  name,  in  the  preface  to  his  Harsa-carita,1  composed 
early  in  the  seventh  century.2  But  it  must  be  recognised  that 
the  question  is  not  free  from  difficulty,  Neither  the  date  of 
Dharmakirti  nor  that  of  the  Uddyotakara  can  be  taken  as 
conclusively  settled;  nor  is  it  beyond  question,  in  the  absence  of 
the  author's  name,  that  Bana  really  alludes  to  Subandhu's  work. 
Even  if  the  early  part  of  the  7th  century  is  taken  to  be 
the  date  of  Dharmakirti  and  the  Uddyotakara,  it  would  make 
Subandhu  a  contemporary  of  Bana.  The  traditional  view  that 
Bana  wrote  his  romance  to  surpass  that  of  Subandhu  probably 
arose  from  Bana's  qualification  of  his  own  Kadamban  (st,  20) 
by  the  epithet  ati-dvayl  '  surpassing  the  two,'  these  two  being, 
according  to  the  very  late  commentator,8  Subandhu's  Vasavadatta 
and  Gunadhya's  Brhatkatha.  But  the  doubt  expressed,4  though 
later  abandoned,5  by  Peterson  has  been  lately  revived.  Since  the 
arguments  on  both  sides  of  the  question  6  proceed  chiefly  on  the 

1  Stanza  11.  The  argument  that  Bana,  by  the  use  of  Sle?a  in  this  stanza,  mean*  to 
imply  Subandhu's  fondness  for  it,  is  weak;  for  Bana  usea  Slesa  also  in  the  stanzas  on  Bbasa 
and  the  Brhatkatha. 

8  Among  other  Inerary  or  historical  allusions  made  by  Subandhu,  the  reference  to 
Vikramaditya  and  Kanka  in  the  tenth  introductory  stanza  bus  been  made  the  basis  of  entirely 
problematic  conjectures  by  Hall  (p.  6),  Hoernle  (JRAS,  1903,  p.  545f)  and  B.  C.  Mazumdar 
(JRAS,  1907,  p.  406f);  see  L,  H.  Gray,  introd.,  p.  8f.  The  description  of  Kusumapura  and 
Subandbu's  practice  of  the  Gaud!  Biti  may  suggest  that  he  WAS  an  eastern  writer,  but  the 
geography  of  the  work  is  too  conventional  and  the  argument  on  Biti  too  indefinite  to  be 
decisive.  There  are  two  other  punning  allusions  by  Subandhu,  apparently  to  a  Gana-karika" 
with  a  Vrtti  by  Surap&la  (cd.  Srirangam,  p.  314)  and  an  obscurely  mentioned  work  by 
Kamalfikara-bhikgu  (p.  319);  but  these  have  not  yet  been  sufficiently  recognised  and  traced. 

1  Bh§nudatta,  the  commentator,  belongs  to  the  16th  century.  But  the  phrase  ati-dvayl 
is  not  grammatically  correct,  and  the  reading  appears  to  be  doubtful.  Possibly  it  is  a 
graphical  scribal  error  for  aniddhaya  (qualifying  dhiya)  read  by  other  commentators  (c/.  OLD, 
IV,  no.  2,  1941,  p.  7). 

*  Inirod.  to  Kadamban,  pp.  71-73.  *    Introd.  to  Sbhv,  p.  183 

*  See    Kane,      introd.     to     Har$a>carita>    p.    xif ;     Weber,      Inditche    S  tret  fan, 
Berlin  1868,  I,  pp.  369-86;  Telang  in  JBRAS  XVIII,    1891,  p.  147f;  W.  Cartellieri  in 
WZKM>  I,    1887,  pp.     115-3i;    F.  W.  Thomas    in     WZKM,    XII,    1898,   pp.    21-33f 
alto    in    JRAS,   1920,     pp.     386.387;     Mankowski  iu     WZKMt     XV,    1901,    p.  246f' 
Keith  in  JftAS,  1914  (arguing  that  Subandhu  cannot  be  safely  ascribed  to  a  period  substantially 


debatable  grounds  of  the  standard  of  taste  and  morals,  and  of  style 
and  diction,  it  is  scarcely  possible  to  express  a  final  opinion 
without  being  dogmatic.  The  only  one  characteristic  difference 
of  Subandhu's  prose  from  that  of  Bana,  apart  from  its  being 
uninspiring,  is  the  excessive,  but  self-imposed,  use  of 
paronomasia  (Slesa);  but  this  argues  neither  for  priority  nor 
posteriority,  but  only  suggests  the  greater  currency  of  this  figure 
of  speech  in  this  period.  The  only  certain  point  about 
Subandhu's  date  is  the  fact  that  in  the  first  half  of  the 
8th  century,  Vakpati  in  his  Prakrit  poem  Gaudavaho  (at.  800) 
connects  Subandbu's  name  with  those  of  Bhasa,  Kalidasa  and 
Haricandra,  and  a  little  later  in  the  same  century,  Vamana  quotes 
anonymously  l  a  passage  which  occurs,  with  a  slight  variation,  in 
Subandhu's  Vasavadatta.  2 

With  the  Vasavadatta  of  the  Udayana  legend,  made  famous  . 
by  various  poets  in  Sanskrit  literature,  Subandhu's  romance  has 
nothing  common  except  the  name  ;  and  since  the  story,  as  told  by 
Subandhu,  does  not  occur  elsewhere  in  any  form,  it  appears  to  be 
entirely  invented  and  embellished  by  our  poet.  But  the  plot  is 
neither  rich  nor  striking.  The  handsome  prince  Kandarpaketu, 

before  650  A.D.);  Sivaprasad  Bhattacharya  iti  IHQ,  IV,  1929,  p.  699f.— There  is  one  passage 
to  wh  cb  attention  does  appear  to  have  been  drawn,  but  it  is  no  less  important,  it  describes 
the  passionate  condition  of  Vasavadatta  at  the  sight  of  Kandarpaketu  and  runs  thus  : 

hrdayam  vtlikhttam  iva  utkirnam  ivat   pratyuptam  iva,  kllitam  iva vajralepa-gha^itam 

iva marmantara-sthitam  iva,  which  appears  to  be  reproduced   in   a    metrical   form  in  the 

following  three  lines  from  Bhavabhuti's  Malati-madhava  (v.  10)  : 

lineva  pratibimbiteva  hkhitevotkirna-riipeva  ca 
pratyupteva  ca  vaJTalepa-ghatitevantaTmkhdteva  ca  \ 
sa  na£  cetasi  ktliteva  vitikhaiS  cetobhuvah  paftcabhih... 

The  verbal  resemblance  cannot  be  dismissed  as  accidental;  but  considering  that  BhavabhQti 
here  improves  upon  what  he  weaves  into  the  texture  of  his  poem  and  also  the  fact  that 
Bhavabhuti  is  known  to  have  borrowed  phrases  from  Kllidasa,  the  presumption  of  borrowing 
on  the  part  of  Bhavabhuti  is  likely. 

1  Kavyalarpk&ra  i.  3.26    (kuli£a-sikhara'khara'nakhara°)  =  V&savadattd,  ed,  Sriraran- 
gaiu,  p.  3S1  and  ed.  Hall,  p.  226. 

2  For  other  references  to  Subandhu  and  his  work  see  Gray,  pp.  34.    Gray  is  right  in 
thinking  that  the  reference  in  the  DaMtimSra*  to  Vasavadatta  clearly  alludes  to  the  story  of 
Udayana  and  Vas«vadatt&,  and  not  to  Vasavadatta  of  Subandhu '0  romance. 


son  of  Cintaraani,  beholds  in  a  dream  a  lovely  maiden;  and, 
setting  out  with  his  friend  Makaranda  in  search  of  the  unknown 
beloved  and  resting  at  night  in  the  Vindhya  hills  under  a  tree,  he 
overhears  the  conversation  of  a  couple  of  parrots  that  princess 
Vasavadatta  of  Pataliputra,  having  similarly  dreamt  of  Kandarpa- 
ketUj  has  sent  her  pet  parrot,  Tamalika,  to  find  him.  With  the 
help  of  the  kindly  bird,  the  lovers  unite  ;  but  as  Srngarasekhara, 
father  of  the  princess,  plans  her  marriage  with  a  Vidyadhara 
chief,  the  lovers  elope  on  a  magic  steed  to  the  Vindbya  bills. 
Early  in  the  morning,  while  Kandarpaketu  is  still  asleep,  Vasava- 
datta, straying  into  the  forest,  is  chased  by  -  two  gangs  of 
Kiratas  ;  but  as  they  fall  out  and  fight  for  her,  she  eludes  tbem 
but  trespasses  into-  a  hermitage,'  where  she  is  turned  into  stone 
by  the  curse  of  the  unchivalrous  ascetic.  Kandarpaketu,  deterred 
from  self-destruction  by  a  voice  from  the  sky,  finds  her  after  a 
a  long  search,  and  at  his  touch  the  curse  terminates. 

It  will  be  seen  that  the  central  argument  of  such  tales  is 
weak  and  almost  insignificant.  The  general  scheme  appears  to 
consist  of  the  falling  in  love  of  a  passionate  hero  with  a  heroine 
of  the  fair  and  frail  type,  and  their  final  union  after  a  series  of 
romantic  adventures,  in  which  all  the  narrative  motifs  *  of  dream- 
vision,  talking  parrots,  magic  steed,  curse,  transformation  and 
voice  in  the  air  are  utilised.  But  the  interest  of  the  story-telling 
lies  not  in  incident,  but  in  minute  portraiture  of  the  personal 
beauty  of  the  lovers  and  their  generous  qualities,  their  ardent, 
if  sentimental,  longing  for  each  other,  the  misfortune  obstruct- 
ing the  fulfilment  of  their  desires,  their  pangs  of  thwarted  love, 
and  the  preservation  of  their  love  through  all  trials  and  difficul- 
ties until  their  final  union.  All  this  is  eked  out  lavishly  by  the 
romantic  commonplaces  of  the  Kavya,  by  highly  flavoured 
descriptions  of  cities,  battles,  oceans,  mountains,  seasons,  sunset, 
inoonrise  and  the  like,  and  by  the  display  of  enormous  Sastric 

2    A  list  of  these  are   made  out  by  Cartellieri,  op.  cit.    For  a  study  of  these  motifs  as 
literaiy  devices  see  Gray  in  WZKM ,  XVIII,  1904,  p.  89f. 


learning  and  technical  skill.     Subandhu's  poverty  of  invention 
and   characterisation,    therefore,  is   not  surprising  ;  and  criticism 
has  been,  not  unjustly,  levelled  against  the  absurdities  and  incon- 
sistencies of  his  story.  But  the  slenderness  of  the  theme  is  not  so 
much  a  matter  of  importance   to   Subandhu   as  the   manner  of 
developing  or   over-developing  it.     Stress  has  been   rightly  laid 
on  his  undoubted,    if  somewhat  conventional,    descriptive  power  ; 
but  the  more  than  occasional  descriptive  digressions,  forming  the 
inseparable  accessory  of   the  Kavya,   constitute  the   bulk    of  bis 
work,  and  are  made  merely  the  means  of  displaying  his  luxuriant 
rhetorical  skill  and  multifarious  learning.     The    attractiveness  of 
the  lady  of  Kandarpaketu's  vision,  for    instance,  is  outlined  in  a 
brief  sentence  of  some  one    hundred  and   twenty  lines  only  !  The 
wise  censure  of  Anandavardhana  1  that  the  poets'  are  often  regard- 
less of  theme  and    sentiment  and  exceedingly  engrossed  in  verbal 
tricks  is  more  than   just   in  its  application  to  the  Prose  Kavya  of 
this  type. 

It  must,  however,  be  said  to  Subandhu's  credit  that 
he  is  not  overfond  of  long  rolJing  compounds,  and  even  when 
they  occur,  they  are  not  altogether  devoid  of  majesty  and  melody. 
When  he  has  no  need  for  a  long  sentence,  he  can  write  short 
ones,  and  this  occurs  notably  in  the  brief  dialogues.  The  sound- 
effects  are  not  always  tedious,  nor  his  use  of  words  always 
atrocious.  What  becomes  wearisome  in  its  abundance  is 
Subandhu's  constant  search  for  conceits,  epithets  and  similes 
expressed  in  endless  strings  of  paronomasia  (Slesa)  and  apparent 
incongruity  (Virodhabhasa).  For  this  reason,  even  his  really 
coruscating  ideas  and  images  become  more  brilliant  than  lumi- 
nous. When  we  are  told  that  a  lady  is  rahta-pada  like  a 
grammatical  treatise,  her  feet  being  painted  with  red  lacquer  as 
sections  of  grammar  with  red  lines,  or  that  the  rising  sun  is 
blood- coloured,  because  the  lion  of  dawn  clawed  the  elephant  of 
the  night,  we  are  taken  to  the  -  verge  of  ludicrous  fancy ;  but 

1    Dhvanyaloka,  ed.  NSP,  Bombay  1911,  p.  161. 



such  instances  abound  from  page  to  page.1  In  a  stanza,  the 
genuineness  of  which,  however,  is  doubted,  Subandhu  describes 
his  own  work  as  a  treasure-bouse  of  literary  dexterity,  and 
declares  that  he  has  woven  a  pun  in  every  syllable  of  his  com- 
position. We  hrtve  indeed  the  dictum  of  the  KavyadarSa  (ii.  362) 
that  paronomas  i  generally  enhances  the  charm  of  all  poetic 
figures,  and  the  extraordinary  resources  of  Sanskrit  permit  its 
effective  use,  but  the  rhetorician  probably  never  means  that  the 
paronomasia  should  overshadow  everything.  The  richness  of 
Subandhu's  fancy  and  his  ingenuity  in  this  direction  is  indeed 
astonishing  and  justifies  his  boasting ;  but  it  cannot  be  said  that 
he  has  flsed  this  figure  with  judgment  or  with  the  sense  of 
visualisation  which  makes  this,  as  well  as  other,  figures  a 
means  of  beautiful  expression.  Subandhu's  paronomasias  are 
often  far-fetched  and  phantas-rnagoric,  adduced  only  for  the 
sake  of  cleverness,  and  involve  much  straining  and  even  torturing 
of  the  language.  It  is  true  that  in  the  stringing  together  of  puns 
Subandhu  does  not  stand  alone.  Bana  also  makes  much  use 
pf  it,  and  refers  to  this  habit  of  the  Katha  when  he  describes 
it  as  nirantara-6lesa-ghana.  But  Bana  never  indulges  in 
unceasing  fireworks  of  puns  and  other  devices,  and  his  poetic 
imagination  and  power  of  picturesque  description  make 
ample  amends  for  all  his  weakness  for  literary  adornment. 
Subandhu,  on  the  other  hand,  lacks  these  saving  graces ;  nor 
does  he  command  the  humour,  vigour  and  variety  of  Dandin.  He 
becomes,  therefore,  a  willing  victim  of  the  cult  of  style,  which 
believes  that  nothing  great  can  be  produced  in  the  ordinary  way. 
In  order  to  appreciate  Subandhu's  literary  accomplishment 
this  fact  should  be  borne  in  mind ;  and  it  ia  as  unnecessary  as  it 
is  hypercritical  either  to  depreciate  or  exaggerate  his  merits 
unduly.  It  should  be  conceded  that,  in  spite  of  its  fancy,  pathos 
and  sentiment,  Subandhu's  work  is  characterised  by  an  element 

*     Kriftbcamacbariar  has  given  (op.  ctt.,  p.  xixf)   an  almost  exhaustive  list  of  instances 
of  8ab»odtm'0  verbal  accomplishment. 


of  mere  trick  which  certainly  impairs  its  literary  value  ;  but  it 
should  not  be  assumed  that  it  is  a  stupendous  trifle,  which 
enjoyed  a  fame  and  influence  disproportionate  to  its  worth.  Bana 
is  doubtless  a  greater  poet  and  can  wield  a  •  wonderful  spell  of 
language,  but  Subandhu's  method  and  manner  of  story-telling  do 
not  differ  much  from  those  of  Bana,  and  conform  to  the  general 
scheme  of  the  Prose  Kavya.  But  for  his  excessive  fondness  for 
paronomasia,  Subandhu's  style  and  diction  are  no  more  tyranni- 
cally mannered  than  those  of  Bana ;  and  parallelisms  in  words 
and  ideas  have  been  found  in  the  respective  works  of  the  two 
poets.  It  is  true  that  Subandhu's  glittering,  but  somewhat  cold, 
fancy  occupies  itself  more  with  the  rhetorical,  rather  than  with 
the  poetical,  possibilities  of  his  subject ;  but  making  allowance 
for  individual  traits,  one  must  recognise  the  same  technique  and 
paraphernalia  in  both  Subandhu  and  Bana.  They  deal  with  the 
self-same  commodities  ;  and  if  richness  of  vocabulary,  wealth  of 
description,  profusion  of  epithets,  similes  and  conceits,  and 
frequency  of  learned  allusions  are  distinctive  of  Subandhu,  they 
are  also  found  in  Bfuia.  Whatever  difference  there  is  between 
the  two  romancers,  it  is  one  not  in  kind  but  in  degree. 

It  would  appear,  therefore,  that  both  Subandhu  and  Bana 
exhibit  in  their  works  certain  features  of  the  Sanskrit  prose 
narrative  which,  being  of  the  same  character,  must  have  belonged 
to  the  general  literary  tendency  of  the  time.  The  tendency  is 
not  so  apparent  in  Dandin,  but  in  Subandhu  and  Bana  it  is 
carried  to  its  extreme ;  and  we  find,  more  or  less,  a  similar 
phenomenon  in  poetry,  as  we  pass  from  Bharavi  to  Magha.  It 
is,  however,  a  facile  explanation  which  puts  it  down  to  incom- 
petence, bad  taste  or  queer  mentality ;  the  question  has  a  deeper 
historical  significance,  perhaps  more  in  prose  than  in  poetry. 
Louis  H.  Gray  calls  attention  to  certain  stylistic  similarities 
between  Subandhu's  Vasavadatta  and  Lyly's  Eupheus ;  but  if 
there  is  any  point  in  drawing  a  parallel,  it  lies  precisely  in  the 
fact  that  the  work  of  the  Sanskrit  stylist,  like  that  of  the 
Elizabethan  mannerist,  is  a  deliberate  attempt  to  achieve  a  riehA 


variegated  and  imaginative  prose  style,  although  like  all  deli- 
berate attempts  it  is  carried  to  fantastic  excess.  The  ornate  and 
fanciful  style  tends  to  the  florid  and  extravagant,  and  needs  to  be 
restrained  and  tamed ;  but  the  plain  style  inclines  equally  towards 
the  slipshod  and  jejune,  and  needs  to  be  raised  and  inspired. 
The  plain  style,  evidenced  in  the  Pancatantra,  is  indeed  well 
proportioned,  clear  and  sane,  and  is  suitable  for  a  variety  of  liter- 
ary purpose,  but  it  is  ill  fitted  for  fanciful,  gorgeous  or  passion- 
ate expression ;  it  is  constantly  liable,  when  not  used  with 
something  more  than  ordinary  scholarship  and  taste,  to  degene- 
rate into  commonness  or  insipidity.  Neither  Subandhu  nor 
Bana  may  have  evolved  a  properly  ornate  style,  suitable  for 
counteracting  these  perils  and  for  elevated  imaginative  writing, 
but  their  inclination  certainly  points  to  this  direction.  It  is  not 
the  rhetorical  habit  in  these  writers  which  annoys,  but  their  use 
of  rhetoric,  not  in  proportion,  but  out  of  proportion,  to  their 
narrative,  description,  idea  or  feeling.  Perhaps  in  their  horror 
of  the  commonplace  and  in  their  eagerness  to  avoid  the  danger  of 
being  dull,  they  proceed  to  the  opposite  extreme  of  too  heavy 
ornamentation,  and  thereby  lose  raciness,  vigour  and  even  sanity  ; 
but  for  this  reason  the  worthiness  of  their  motive  and  the 
measure  of  success  which  they  achieved  should  not  be  missed. 
We  have  an  interesting  illustration  here  of  what  occurs  every- 
where, namely  the  constantly  recurring  struggle  between  the 
plain  and  the  ornate  style ;  but  in  trying  to  avoid  plainness, 
these  well-meaning  but  unbalanced  writers  practically  swamp  it 
with  meaningless  ornateness,  by  applying  to  prose  the  ill-fitting 
graces  and  refinements  of  poetry.  The  gorgeous  standard,  which 
they  set  up,  is  neither  faultless  nor  easy  to  follow,  but  it  is  curi- 
ous that  it  is  never  questioned  for  centuries.  It  is  a  pity  that 
their  successors  never  realise  their  literary  motive,  but  only 
exaggerate  their  literary  mannerisms.  It  was  for  <the  later  writers 
to  normalise  the  style  by  cutting  down  its  early  exuberant  excesses, 
but  it  is  strange  that  they  never  attempted  to  do  so.  Perhaps  they 
fell  under  the  fascination  of  its  poetical  magnificence,  and  were 


actuated  by  the  theory  which  approximated  prose  to  poetry  and 
affiliated  the  prose  Kavya  to  the  metrical.  There  has  never  been, 
therefore,  in  the  later  history  of  Sanskrit  prose  style,  a  real  ebb 
and  flow,  a  real  flux  between  maxima  and  minima.  It  is  for 
this  reason  perhaps  that  the  perfect  prose  style,  which  keeps  the 
golden  mean  between  the  plain  and  the  ornate,  never  developed  in 

There  is,  thus,  no  essential  difference  of  literary  inspiration 
between  Subandhu  and  Bana  ;  only,  Subandhu's  gifts  are  often 
rendered  ineffectual  by  the  mediocrity  of  his  poetic  powers. 
There  is  the  sameness  of  characteristics  and  of  ideas  of  workman- 
ship; but  while  Subandhu  often  plods,  Bana  can  often  soar. 
The  extreme  excellence,  as  well  as  the  extreme  defect,  of  the 
literary  tendency,  which  both  of  them  represent  in  their  indivi- 
dual way,  are,  however,  better  mirrored  in  Bana's  works,  which 
reach  the  utmost  limit  of  the  peculiar  type  of  the  Sanskrit  prose 

d.     Bdnabhatta 

(  In  the  first  two  and  a  half  chapters  of  his  Harsa-carita  and 
in  the  introductory  stanzas  of  his  Kadambarl,1  Banabhatta 
gives  an  account  of  himself  and  his  family  as  prelude  to  that  of 
his  royal  patron  A  He  was  a  Brahman  of  the  Vatsyayana-gotra, 
his  ancestry  being  traced  to  Vatsa,  of  whom  a  mythological 
account  is  given  as  the  cousin  of  Saradvata,  son  of  SarasvatI  and 
Dadhica.  In  the  family  was  born  Kubera,  who  was  honoured 
by  many  Gupta  kings,  and  whose  youngest  son  was  PaSupata. 
Pagupata's  son  was  Arthapati;  and  among  the  many  sons  of 
Arthapati,  Citrabhanu  was  Bana's  father.  They  lived  in  a  place 
called  Pritikuta  on  the  banks  of  the  Hiranyabahu,  otherwise  known 

1  The  accounts  a^ree,  except  ]in  one  omission,  namely,  the  name  of  Bana 'ft  great-grand- 
father, PMupata,  is  not  found  in  the  Kadambari.  For  a  recent  summary  of  all  relevant 
questions  regarding  Bana  and  his  works,  as  well  as  for  a  full  bibliography,  see  A.  A.  Maria 
Sharpe,  B ana's  K&dambari  (Diss..  N.  V.  de  Vlaamsche,  Leuven  1937),  pp.  1-108,  which  also 
contains  Dutch  trs.  of  work,  with  indices  and  concordances, 



as  the  river  Sona.  Bana's  mother  Rajyadevi  died  while  he  was  yet 
young,  but  his  father  took   tender  care  of  him.    When  he  was 
about  fourteen,  his  father   died;  and    in  the  unsettled  life  which 
followed,  Bana   wandered  about   from   place   to  place,  mixed  in 
dubious  company,  acquired  evil  repute  as  well  as  rich  experience, 
returned  home  and  lived  a  life  of  quiet  study.  He  was  summoned 
to  the  presence  of  king  Harsavardhana,  ostensibly  for  being  taken 
to  task  for  his  misspent  youth,  at  his   camp   near   the   town  of 
Manitara  on  the  Ajiravati.     He    was  at   first  received  with  cold- 
ness, but  afterwards  with   much  favour.1    After  some  time,  on  a 
visit  home,  Bana   was  requested  by   his  relatives   to  speak  of  the 
great  king.     He   began   his   narrative,    after   having  warned  his 
audience  of  his  inability  to  do  full  justice  to  his  theme.  The  story 
is  told  in  the  remaining  five  Ucchvasas,  but  it   is  left  unfinished. 
It  was  possibly   never   his  intention   to  offer  a  complete  account; 
for  he  tells  us  that  even   in  a  hundred   lives   he  cannot  hope  to 
recount  the  whole   story  of  Har^a's  mighty  deeds,  and  asks  his 
audience  if  they  would  be  content  to  hear  a  part.2 

We  have  already  spoken  of  the  value  of  the  important 
metrical  preface  to  the(ffarsa-can£a/)which  speaks  of  the  famous 
literary  predecessors  of  Bana.  .JThe  story  begins  with  a  descrip- 
tion of  SthanvJgvara  and  of  the  glorious  kings,  sprung  from 

1  It  is  not  known  tt  what  stage  of  Harsa's  career  Bana  met  him.  It  is  assumed  that 
Bin*  was  fairly  young  when  Harsa  in  his  greatness  patronised  him)  and  that  there  is  no 
reason  to  presume  that  Bana  wrote  in  the  early  part  of  Harsa *s  reign,  which  ended  in  647 -A. D. 
Bana  never  alludes  to  troubles  of  poverty  among  oth^r  troubles  he  mentions  in  Uochvasa  i, 
and  we  are  also  toll  that  he  inherited  wealth  from  his  ancestors.  He  acknowledges  gifts 
from  his  patron,  but  there  is  nothing  to  support  the  legend  that  he  sold  some  of  his  literary 
works  to  Harsa. 

*  The  earliest  quotation  from  BSna,  though  anonymous,  occurs  in  Vamana's 
K&vyalamkara  (2nd  half  'of  the  8th  century)  v.  2. 44,  anukaroti  bhagavato  ndrdyanasya 
(  =Kadajnbarit  td,  Peterson,  p.  6),  In  the  middle  of  the  9th  century,  Bana  and  his  two 
works  are  nwtjtimied  by  Inandavardbana  in  his  Dhranyahka  (ed.  NSP,  pp.  87,  100, 
101,127).  "  '  v^fc  M  •  ,, 

8  Ed*  A>  ^^^P";wft)l  C0mm'  °f  Strpkara'  Bombl  Skt"  Ser"  1909 ;  ed-  K-  p-  Parab> 
with  same  comm^^^pKlpbay  1892  (6th  ed.  1925) ;  ed.  P.  V.  Kane  (without  comm.  but  with 

notes,  etc.),  BombaflllL  Trs.  into  English  by  E.  B.  Cowell  and  F.W.  Thoznas,  Ix)ndoii  1907, 


Puspabhuti,  from  whom  is  descended  Hanjavardhana's  father, 
Prabhakaravardhana.  Harsa's  elder  brother  is  Kajyavardhana ; 
and  his  sister  KajyaSrI  is  married  to  Grahavarman  of  the 
Maukhari  family  of  Kanyakubja.  Then  we  have  a  more  brilliant 
than  pathetic  picture  of  the  illness  and  death  of  Prabhakara- 
vardhana, whose  queen  Yasomati  also  ascends  the  funeral  pyre, 
of  the  return  of  Kajyavardhana  from  his  successful  campaign 
against  the  Hunas,  and  of  his  reluctance  to  ascend  the  throne. 
But  before  Harsa  could  be  installed,  news  reaches  that  the  king 
of  Malava  has  slain  Grahavarman  and  imprisoned  Rajyafri. 
Eajyavardhana  succeeds  in  defeating  the  Malava  king,  but  he  is 
treacherously  killed  by  the  king  of  Gauda.  Harsa's  expedition 
to  save  his  sister  follows,  but  in  the  mean  time^he  escapes  from 
prison  and  is  rescued  by  a  Buddhist  sage.  The  story  abruptly 
ends  \\ith  the  meeting  of  Harsa  and  Rajya^ri  while  the  tale  of 
her  recovery  is  being  told.  The  work  gives  us  nothing  about  the 
later  career  of  Harsa,  nor  any  information  regarding  the  later 
stages  of  Bana's  own  life./ 

V  The  Harsa-carita  has  the  distinction  of  being  the  first 
attempt  at  writing  a  Prose  Kavya  on  an  historical  theme.1) 
Subandhu's  Vasavadatta,  as  well  as  Bana's  other  prose  narrative, 
the  Kadambarl,  deals  with  legendary  fiction,  and  everything  is 
viewed  in  these  works  through  a  highly  imaginative  atmosphere. 
The  Harsa-carita  is  no  less  imaginative,  but  the  author  takes  his 
own  sovereign  as  his  hero  and  weaves  the  story  out  of  some  actual 
events  of  his  career.  In  this  respect  it  supplies  a  contemporary 
picture, y hi ch,  in  the  paucity  of  other  records,  is  indeed  valuable; 
but  its  importance  as  an  historical  document  should  not  be 
overrated.  The  sum-total  of  the  story,  lavishly  embellished 
as  it  is,  is  no  more  than  an  incident  in  Harsa's  career ;  and  it 
cannot  be  said  that  the  picture  is  either  full  or  satisfactory 
from  the  historical  point  of  view.  Many  points  in  the  narra- 
tive, especially  the  position,  action  and  identity  of  the  Malava 

i    See  below,  ch.  VI,  under  Poema  with  Hiitoricti  Theoie*. 


and  the  Gauda  kings,  are  left  obscure ;  and  the  gorgeously 
descriptive  and  ornamental  style  leaves  little  room  for  the  poor 
thread  of  actual  history.  Even  if  the  work  supplies  picturesque 
accounts,  into  which  the  historian  may  profitably  delve,  of  the 
actualities  of  life  in  camp  and  court,  in  monastery  and  village 
retreat,  of  military  expeditions,  and  of  social  and  religious 
observances  and  practices,  we  learn  very  little  indeed  of  the 
political  facts  of  the  great  emperor's  reign  as  a  whole. 

\It  is  clear  that  Bana  writes  his  Harsa-carita  more  as  a 
romantic  story  than  as  a  sober  history  of  the  king's  life,  and  stops 
when  he  is  satisfied  that  his  Muse  has  taken  a  sufficiently  long 
flight./  The  term  '  Historical  Kavya,'  which  is  often  applied  to 
this  and  other  ^works  of  the  same  kind,  is  hardly  expressive ; 
for,  in  all  essential,  the  work  is  a  Prose  Kavya,  and  the  fact  of 
its  having  an  historical  theme  does  not  make  it  historical  in 
style,  spirit  and  treatment.  The  reproach  that  India  had  little 
history  and  historical  sense  is  perhaps  not  entirely  just,  but 
India  was  little  interested  in  historical  incident  as  such,  and 
never  took  seriously  to  chroniclining,  much  less  to  what  is  known 
as  history  in  modern  times.  The  uncertainties  of  pre-history, 
therefore,  continue  in  India  to  a  comparatively  late  period ;  and 
it  is  also  important  to  note  that  the  idea  of  evolution  is,  in  the 
same  way,  scarcely  recognised  in  the  sphere  of  thought  and 
speculation.  Perhaps  the  explanation  is  to  be  sought  in  the 
psychology  of  the  Indian  mind,  which  takes  the  world  of 
imagination  to  be  more  real  than  the  world  of  fact ;  perhaps  we 
in  modern" times  attach  too  much  importance  to  fact  or  incident 
and  make  a  fetish  of  history  or  evolution.  In  any  case,  history 
had  little  place  in  the  Kavya,  which  apparently  considered  the 
mythological  heroes  to  be  more  interesting  than  the  actual 
rulers  of  the  day.  Even  when  a  real  personage  is  taken  for 
treatment,  as  in  the  case  of  Har§a,  he  is  elevated  and  invested 
with  all  the  glory  and  some  of  the  fiction  of  the  mythological 
hero.  The  Sanskrit  theory  of  art  also,  in  its  emphasis  on 
imaginative  and  im personalised  creation,  encouraged  abstraction, 


admitted  belief  in  fate  and  miracle,  and  had  little  feeling  for  the 
concrete  facts  and  forces  of  human  nature  and  human  life.  The 
same  spirit,  which  tended  against  the  creation  of  a  vigorous  and 
sensitive  drama,  stood  also  in  the  way  of  clear  and  critical 
historiography.  The  poets  who,  like  Bana,  write  on  histori- 
cal themes,  never  claim  merit  ;is  historians,  but  conceive  their 
duty  to  be  that  of  a  poet.  It  would  not  be  proper,  therefore, 
to  attach  the  qualification  '  historical  '  to  what  is  essentially  a 

The  imposition  of  keeping  even  within  the  semblance  of 
fact  is  absent  in  the  Kadambarl,  which  is  an  entirely  imagina- 
tive creation,  but  which  like  the  Harsa-carita,  is  also  left 
unfinished.  It  was,  however,